Alan Maloney Seeks $100k for Defamation After Having Andrew Johnson Cut Dreads

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

Spenser Mango's shoes sit on the center of the mat after losing to Jesse Thielke in their 59-kilogram Greco Roman match at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Alan Maloney, the referee who gave high school wrestler Andrew Johnson the choice of cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting a match in December, is threatening to sue the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for defamation.

According to TMZ Sports on Tuesday, Maloney wrote in a letter to the NJSIAA that he is seeking $100,000 in damages.

Maloney has not officiated a high school wrestling match since the incident, and he alleged the NJSIAA has done nothing to support him in his claim that giving Johnson the ultimatum was within the rules laid out by the organization.

Video of a distraught Johnson getting his dreadlocks cut before going on to win a match for Buena Regional High School went viral in December:

Mike Frankel @MikeFrankelJSZ

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. https://t.co/f6JidKNKoI

After many felt Maloney had acted with racial prejudice, the NJSIAA pulled him from officiating future events in order to investigate.

In his letter to the NJSIAA, Maloney said that he doesn't believe the organization has done enough to protect him from the narrative that his ruling was racially driven. That was fueled further when a 2016 allegation that Maloney used a racial slur during an argument with a black official at a New Jersey condo surfaced.

Per TMZ Sports, Maloney said Johnson's hair length was in violation of the rules. Maloney added that when Johnson was unable to produce a hair covering, he "provided the wrestler with the time to correct the deficiency" in the form of a haircut.

Johnson's attorney, Dominic Speziali, took issue with Maloney's allegations, telling TMZ Sports, "To the extent that [Maloney] plans to file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd."