NJ Top News 2/16 – Wrestling Ref in Dreadlocks Scandal Sues NJSIAA
A high school wrestling official who touched off a national firestorm for making a wrestler cut his hair is now suing the NJSIAA.
It was 2018 when Alan Maloney, a long-time wrestling official, told Buena wrestler Andrew Johnson that he did not have the proper head cover over his dreadlocks, and would have to cut his hair or forfeit his match against Oakcrest.
Photos and video of Johnson cutting his hair went viral and Maloney was branded a racist. The incident sparked an investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the state Attorney General's office. Gov. Phil Murphy was among those critical of Maloney for the hair cutting incident. Ultimately, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association suspended Maloney from officiating for two years. He is eligible for reinstatement for the 2021-2022 season.
In the weeks following the Buena incident, there were multiple reports painting Maloney as racist. They included allegations he had used the N-word, which he denied, and a report claiming that he kicked an 11-year-old mixed race wrestler in 2014. In March 2019, Maloney signaled his intent to sue, but has largely kept silent on the incident. The suit was formally filed in Atlantic County at the end of January, seeking $100,000 in lost wages.
The suit blames a reporter for tweeting a photo of Johnson getting his hair cut with wrong information that was then "manipulated and misconstrued as a national race issue." Maloney blames NJSIAA Executive Director Larry White for bowing to pressure from a "media blitz" and "fueling erroneous reports in the media that the plaintiff's (Maloney's) actions were racially motivated."
The NJSIAA has not commented on the lawsuit, but NJ.com reports the NJSIAA's chief legal counsel told the association's Executive Committee they would be "defending it (the lawsuit) over the next period of time."
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