HS referee who told wrestler to cut dreadlocks barred for 2 seasons

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A referee who told a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match last year has been suspended for two seasons.

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced the sanction Wednesday.

Buena Regional student Andrew Johnson, who is black, had been wearing a hair covering. But referee Alan Maloney, who is white, said he had to cut his hair or forfeit the match last December.

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Maloney had been barred from officiating while an investigation proceeded. In March, he filed notice that he planned to sue for defamation and emotional distress.

Also Wednesday, the state mandated that high school sports officials and staff take bias training.

"Student athletes should be able to compete with each other on a level playing field. Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

The statement continued, “The Division on Civil Rights' action today makes it less likely that any student athlete will have to endure discrimination that not only undermines fair competition but also violates our state laws."

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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