Yesterday, we reported the news of a young black wrestler who was forced by a white referee to cut his dreadlocks before competing in a match in an incident that has raised questions online whether race was involved in the controversial decision.
Now, the referee has been banned from officiating any matches.
Buena High School wrestler Andrew Johnson, who is black, was told by the white referee that he would have to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his Wednesday’s match with his opponent from Oakcrest High School. He had intended to cover his dreadlocks with a hair cap, as is permitted by national and state rules, but was not allowed to do so.
Johnson was left with no option than to cut off his dreads instead of forfeiting the match, which he later won in sudden-victory overtime.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association confirmed in a statement the fallout has prompted state investigators to open a probe into the matter.
NJSIAA executive director Larry White also revealed that the referee will not be assigned any matches until the review is complete, according to
“I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most. The NJSIAA takes this matter very seriously,” he said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Saturday that he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.
“No student should have to needlessly choose between his or her identity & playing sports,” Murphy wrote.