Two New Jersey high school wrestling powers are stopping their matches against one another because of a photo in which members of one team simulated a lynching.

Outside of Phillipsburg High School (CBS New York)

The controversy erupted in February when the photo surfaced online of seven white Phillipsburg wrestlers, some with pointed hoods, posing with a black wrestling dummy hanging from a noose. The dummy is in a Paulsboro shirt.

"I got a message from Tom Fisher, our athletic director, and he told me that Paulsboro would not commit to wrestling us next year," Phillipsburg coach Dave Post told the Express-Times. "It's sad because we are such similar programs and we value hard work."

He added that the his team respects the Paulsboro team and that they always sit together at the state tournament in Atlantic City. 

NJSIAA spokesman Micheael Cherenson told the Inquirer that it was a decision made solely by the two schools.

Loretta Winters, president of the Gloucester County chapter of the NAACP, called it an excellent" decision to end the 15-year rivalry and told the Inquirer she had hoped for charges to be filed against the students involved "instead of just a slap on the wrist."

The seven, plus another team member were scratched from the state tournament after the photo became public. Prosecutors investigated but declined to file charges.

The attorney for the wrestlers, Scott Wilhelm, told the newspaper it was "unfortunate" the two schools would no longer meet.


The Associated Press contributed to this report