The fallout from the controversial end to the Southern Regional High School wrestling team last season continues into the new season.
Coach John Stout, who administered an unauthorized hydration test prior to the 2016-17 season, is suspended from the Rams' practices and meets until Jan. 6.
"I don't like it, but again, who would?" Stout said Thursday.
In May, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs most high school sports in the state, barred Stout from Southern's meets until Jan. 6, Stout said Thursday.
The Southern Regional School District added to the penalty, suspending him from practices, too, until that date, he added.
Serving as the interim head coach in Stout's absence will be assistant coach Dan Roy.
"Coach Stout is one of the best coaches in the state of New Jersey," said Southern athletic director Chuck Donohue Jr., who declined to discuss the school board's additional suspension. "I believe in our coaching staff, and I want to do my part to make sure the group is stable upon his return. I believe in the staff that is in place, and I know our kids, our wrestlers, are working right and will meet every challenge in front of them."
Stout said the players are handling the situation fine. He's also disappointed he can't watch his son, junior 160-pounder John Stout, wrestle for the first part of the season.
"(The team has) been dealing with it for a long time now," Stout said. "They're tough kids. They know I'm coming back. It's just a waiting period."
In February, NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko said Southern withdrew from the state team tournament as a result of a self-reported noncompliance with state high school sports regulations.
Southern Regional principal Eric Wilhelm confirmed in February it was related to how Southern documented its preseason weight certification.
Wrestlers have to be hydrated before each season. They go through a test to determine the lowest weight at which they can safely compete based on their body-fat percentage. The test is mandated by the NJSIAA to protect a wrestler's health.
Rules state a school athletic trainer or someone certified to handle the test must be present. Southern's athletic trainer Joe Caucino wasn't present for the testing.
"I wasn't malicious about anything or hiding anything," Stout said. "I did what I thought I could do. I wasn't trying to get away with anything."
Southern wrestled the whole season until it self-reported the incident prior to the sectional playoffs. The team was allowed to keep its wins, as were the wrestlers, but did not participate in the remainder of the team sectional tournament following a first-round win over Rancocas Valley. The Rams competed in the individual tournament.
"It's a tough situation to be in. I guess there's a situation where they have to do something about it, but I thought that was done (last season)," Stout said. "I thought taking us out of the state tournament and having to get re-certified was a good punishment. It was done innocently. We weren't trying to be deceitful. I wasn't trying to get away with anything. It's a tough pill to swallow."