BUENA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey state officials will be investigating why a high school referee forced a student wrestler to cut his dreadlocks before his match.
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 begrudgingly submitting to the impromptu haircut.
John went on to win his match, but appeared to want no part of the post-match festivities alongside the controversial ref.
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
Johnson apparently did not have the proper wrestling head gear to correctly cover up his hair. It is not known if an appropriate cap was available before school officials cut the boy’s hair off.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association now says the incident – which has drawn charges of racism – will also be probed by state investigators.
“The NJSIAA will be working with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, providing all requested information. The State investigation will take precedence over the NJSIAA process,” NJSIAA executive director Larry White announced Saturday.
White said that the referee who ordered Johnson’s dreadlocks cut will not officiate any wrestling high school matches until the incident is fully reviewed.
“As an African-American and parent – as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete – I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most. The NJSIAA takes this matter very seriously, and I ask that everyone respect the investigatory process related to all parties involved,” White added.