BUENA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A haircut controversy is brewing in New Jersey after a referee told a high school wrestler that he couldn’t participate in a match unless he cut off his dreadlocks.

Now, the incident is under investigation as the referee faces accusations of racism.

Video taken on Wednesday of the wrestler’s choice to avoid forfeiting the match has since gone viral. It shows Buena Regional High School student Andrew Johnson stoically submitting to the impromptu haircut.

READ: Buena Regional School District’s Response To Haircut Controversy

He went on to win his match, but appeared eager to get away from the referee during an unusually short raising of his arm to signify victory.

CBS2 was sent the rules of the match, which state:

  • hair shall not extend below the top of a shirt collar
  • hair shall not extend below earlobe level
  • hair shall not extend below the eyebrows

The stipulations indicate that if Johnson did not cut his hair and lacked the right equipment to keep his hair back, the referee may have been correct. A letter from Schools Superintendent David Cappuccio states in part, “The student athlete made the decision to cut his hair… at that moment… to avoid forfeiture. No school/district staff member influenced the student into making this decision.”

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association confirmed they’re investigating the incident.

“Given the degree of attention being focused on this matter, the NJSIAA will recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly,” they said in a statement sent to CBS2.

Residents say they’re hoping for a more thorough investigation, and the wrestler himself has since kept a low profile.

Comments (3)
  1. Greg Burkett says:

    Rules are rules. Just because other referee’s didn’t have the guts to enforce the rule in other matches because they feared being called racist doesn’t mean they were right. The young man had the choice to wear the proper head gear or have his hair cut and he made his choice. Why make this a racist thing when it was just following the rules.

  2. Much ado about nothing. TV news reports: …humiliation …sparking OUTRAGE! What? Put a swim cap on or get a haircut. His coach must’ve known the rules. At least some of his teammates must’ve known the rules. Appears as if he chose to flaunt the rules. This is a non-story. Absurd.

  3. My son is white and went thru the same thing in monmouth county back in 2006…this is not a racist issue….he did not have a cap and did not want to forfeit either. this is a ridiculous report

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