Andrew Johnson’s family’s attorney released a statement Monday saying the referee was late to the match and missed his weigh-in
The New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks did so because the referee was tardy and missed his weigh-in, the teen’s attorney claims.
Video went viral last week showing Andrew Johnson subjected to the impromptu hair cut on the orders of referee Alan Maloney before his match competing for Buena Regional High School.
The Johnson family’s attorney Dominic Speziali issued a statement Monday claiming the issue could have been avoided far before the match were Maloney present for the weigh-in.
‘Andrew was visibly shaken after he and his coaches made every effort to satisfy the referee short of having his hair cut,’ the statement read. ‘But, as captured on video, the unyielding referee gave Andrew 90 seconds to either forfeit his match or cut his hair.
‘Under duress but without any influence from the coaching staff or the athletic trainer, Andrew decided to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match.’
‘The scholastic wrestling rules clearly state that referees are to inspect wrestlers appearance and determine any rules violations prior to the start of the meet, typically during weigh-ins,’ Speziali said. ‘The referee here was late to the meet and missed weigh-ins. When he did evaluate Andrew, he failed to raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.’
A viral video showed the moment that Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson had his locks cut off so he wouldn’t have to forfeit
The Johnson family’s attorney Dominic Speziali issued a statement Monday claiming the issue could have been avoided far before the match were Maloney present for the weigh-in
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations rules, a wrestler’s hair ‘shall extend no lower than the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back, shall not extend no lower than earlobe level on the sides, and shall not extend below the eyebrows in the front.’
It goes on to state that hair outside of the guidelines shall be contained in a ‘legal hair covering or the wrestler shall not compete.’
‘As Andrew took to the mat to start his match, the referee examined and rejected the head covering he was wearing,’ the lawyer’s statement read.
The embattled referee is also said to have felt that he was merely enforcing the rule concerning hair maintenance
The lawyer added that a tournament the weekend before, Andrew was permitted to wrestle with the same head covering.
‘As the trainer is cutting Andrew’s hair in the middle of the gym, the referee is behind them directing her to keep cutting until he was satisfied with the length,’ Speziali said in the statement.
An investigation into the referee is now underway and Alan Maloney has been banned from overseeing contests while the probe is conducted.
The embattled referee is also said to have felt that he was merely enforcing the rule concerning hair maintenance.
While Maloney asserted that his motives weren’t racist, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has worked to find out what exactly took place.
‘The NJSIAA has been in direct contact with school officials and is now awaiting official incident reports. A report also has been requested from the referee involved,’ it said in a statement.
‘In addition – and as per its formal sportsmanship policy – the NJSIAA has provided initial information to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and will continue to send updates as they become available.
‘At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred.
‘As a precautionary measure, 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 in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers.’
It was soon discovered that the referee, Alan Maloney, has had a history of racist incidents. Maloney can be seen raising the teens hand after he won his match
The video later cuts to Johnson dominating his opponent and pinning him to the ground to win the match
David C. Cappuccio Jr, Superintendent of the Buena Regional School District, released a statement stating that the school was complying with investigations and added insight as to how they perceived the events. The statement was obtained by the DailyMail.com.
‘The student-athlete made the decision to have his hair cut, at that moment, in order to avoid a forfeiture of the match,’ the superintendent said in a letter on Friday. ‘No school/district staff member influenced the student into making this decision.’
The family’s statement supported the superintendent’s claim.
‘As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer,’ Speziali said. ‘The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression.’
David C. Cappuccio Jr, Superintendent of the Buena Regional School District, released a statement saying that the school was complying with investigations and added insight as to how they perceived the events