Update (December 27, 2018): On Wednesday, the Buena Regional Board of Education held an emergency meeting to review the details surrounding high school athlete Andrew Johnson being forced to cut his dreads prior to competing in a wrestling match. After much deliberation, CNN reports that officials concluded they will no longer send any of their sports teams to compete in competitions where referee Alan Maloney will be officiating.

David C. Cappuccio Jr., superintendent of the Buena Regional School District delivered the news to the the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) following the discussion.

“The school district and its athletic teams will not compete in any contest officiated by this referee from this point forward,” his statement read.

The Hill notes that during the emergency meeting Wednesday night, members of the community shared grievances about the racial undertones stemming from the December 19 incident.

The probe into Maloney’s malpractice is still ongoing, and the now-suspended referee has not responded to CNN’s requests for a statement.

Update (December 23, 2018): New Jersey high school referee Alan Maloney will not be allowed to officiate future matches until an investigation conducted by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) regarding Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson is complete.

The wrestler was told to cut his locs Wednesday because, allegedly, his hair and head covering violated wrestling rules. "Regulations regarding hair length and legal hair covers for wrestlers are provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations," the NJSIAA statement read. "At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred."

According to The New York Times, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, a part of the state’s Office of the Attorney General, informed media Saturday they would also be investigating the matter.

Maloney was at the center of another racial controversy in 2016 when he poked a Black referee, Preston Hamilton, in the chest and called him the N-word during a social event, the Courier-Post reports. He was suspended, but an appeal overturned the suspension allowing him to continue officiating. However, Maloney did agree to take part in sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program.

The outrage stemming from a now-viral video of the wrestler getting an impromptu haircut has brought new attention to Maloney. Olympic champion wrestler Jordan Burroughs commented on the incident, stating that in his 25 years a wrestler's hair was never a distraction. "Now, let me tell you how sickening this is. I've been wrestling for 25 years, at every level, and I have never once seen a person required to cut their hair during a match. This is nonsense," he wrote in a thread of tweets.

Original: A high school wrestler attending Buena Regional High School in New Jersey was forced to have his locs cut to compete in a wrestling match. NJ News reports referee Alan Maloney believed the student's head covering was not sufficient, and he would have to forfeit if he didn't cut his hair. Sports newscaster Mike Frankel of SNJ Today News posted a tweet of the incident while calling the wrestler, Andrew Johnson, the "epitome of a team player."

"A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win," he wrote. 

The referee in question came under fire two years ago after calling a Black colleague a "n****r" during a heated debate. The Courier-Post reported the officials met at an offshore condominium where a discussion over homemade wine escalated to Maloney pointing his finger at Preston Hamilton and calling him the racial slur. Maloney was not fired from his job and instead voluntarily participated in an alcohol awareness program before receiving a one-year suspension from his role as an officiate.  

Activist Shaun King shared in an Instagram post that Johnson, who won the match, did not have an advantage over the other player because of his hair.

"Disgusting and heartbreaking. A referee known for his racism, Alan Maloney (google him), made high school wrestler Andrew Johnson cut off his dreads or lose the match. They were covered and gave him no advantage. So he cut them off. He won the match. But this never should’ve been allowed," King wrote. 

Many expressed their outrage on Twitter:


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