The New Jersey high school wrestling official at the center of a controversy that saw an athlete cut his dreadlocks on the mat before a match is threatening to sue up to a dozen defendants including the school district.
Alan Maloney alleges $100,000 in damages for defamation of character and emotional distress in a tort claim notice that preserves his right to a possible lawsuit, the Associated Press reports.
Official required wrestler to cut his dreadlocks
Maloney, a white official, told Andrew Johnson, a black wrestler, that he had to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match on Dec. 19, citing a rule about hair length.
Johnson chose to have his hair cut before the match, which he went on to win.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️
A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelJSZ) December 20, 2018
Johnson’s head covering had been approved before
Johnson had a head covering that addressed the rule, but Maloney wasn’t satisfied. A rules official at the National Federation of State High School Associations said Johnson “should have been allowed to wrestle with the head covering.”
The Johnson family’s lawyer said that his head covering had been accepted in other events.
Maloney accused of using racist language in the past
Maloney, who has been accused of using racist language in the past, has been barred from officiating while state civil rights and interscholastic athletic association officials investigate the incident.
The Courier Post reported in 2016 that Maloney used the N-word during a social gathering of wrestling officials.
From the report:
“Over a disagreement about homemade wine, said Preston Hamilton, who is African American, fellow referee Alan Maloney poked his finger in his chest and hurled the epithet.”
The dreadlocks controversy prompted the Buena Regional school board to boycott matches officiated by Maloney before he was eventually barred.
In New Jersey, a notice of tort must be filed within 90 days of an incident, according to the Associated Press.
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