Seven members of a New Jersey high school wrestling team have called a press conference for tonight to discuss a controversial incident that led to them being scratched from a state tournament.


Outside of Phillipsburg High School (CBS New York)

Phillipsburg High School officials would not say why the wrestlers were pulled from competition, telling The Express-Times of Easton it's a "private student matter." Their elimination from the tournament came just days after a photo surfaced of team members apparently simulating a lynching.

The picture showed seven boys in Phillipsburg wrestling attire surrounding a black wrestling dummy wearing a rival Paulsboro High School T-shirt and hanging from a noose.

Pictures of the wrestlers who were scratched seem to match the faces in the photo.

Lawyer Scott Wilhelm, whose secretary tells The Express-Times he is representing eight wrestlers and will hold a news conference on Thursday night. The eighth wrestler being represented by the attorney was also not scheduled to compete in the tournament, but has not been linked to the incident involving the photo. The wrestlers "will address the media regarding the issues surrounding the recent photograph of them in the wrestling room and the Phillipsburg School District's supervision of their participation in the NJSIAA Wrestling Tournament ..." Wilhelm's office told the newspaper in a statement.

One of the wrestlers scratched from Saturday's match has tweeted an apology. @BroderickBupivi tweeted "This isn't how it's suppose (sic) to be. We are sorry." In a second tweet he said, "I have 2 loves wrestling and my beautiful golden retriever and she's here for me."

A spokesman for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association says the organization is awaiting a report from Phillipsburg school officials on how they're handling the situation. The state Division on Civil Rights also is looking at the case.


The Associated Press contributed to this report