List of current, former UNC players tied to convicted felon growing
Posted July 23, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Haydn "Fats" Thomas, the Durham man at the center of the rental car controversy involving University of North Carolina basketball player PJ Hairston, has connections to even more current and former Tar Heels athletes.
Documents and social media posts tie Thomas, a convicted felon and party promoter, to current UNC basketball player Leslie McDonald, former basketball players John Henson, Dexter Strickland and Harrison Barnes and former UNC football player Greg Little.
The university issued a cease and desist letter last week ordering Iceberg Holdings to remove any marketing images of McDonald showcasing a designer mouthguard after becoming aware that the company was using images of McDonald wearing the high-end mouth piece.
Spencer Howard, an oral surgeon in Durham, is one of the founders of Iceberg Holdings. Howard is a UNC dental school graduate. He and Thomas are cousins and business partners.
Thomas first made news in June after rental vehicles driven by PJ Hairston were traced back to his address.
Hairston and two others were arrested at a traffic checkpoint in Durham June 5 when police found marijuana in their vehicle. Hairston was also charged with driving without a license. All charges against Hairston have since been dropped, but the other two men each face one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.
Thomas also knows McDonald personally.
The two were seen together in a photograph posted to Facebook at a club party, along with Henson.
And the connections continue.
On his Twitter account last year, McDonald tweeted about a cell phone he got from Thomas. He said in the Tweet, "yeah all I did is restore it and activated it."
Also, WRAL found McDonald was pulled over July 4 for speeding. He was driving a 2012 Chevy Malibu owned by a man who told WRAL he does odd jobs for Thomas. He said he let McDonald borrow the Malibu because McDonald is a friend.
Thomas told WRAL he barely knows any of these UNC basketball players, calling them “passing acquaintances.” But, on Thomas' Facebook page, WRAL found another UNC connection - Thomas is friends with former Tar Heels basketball player Barnes.
Even more Twitter posts from a now-deleted account show Thomas has relationships with former Duke wide receiver Desmond Scott and former Durham Riverside stand out Weslye Saunders
Already a convicted felon, Thomas currently faces drug and weapon charges stemming from an arrest in December. That case has piqued the interest of the US Attorney's office.
While the rental cars driven by Hairston raise the possibility of NCAA violations, the other connections to Thomas may not. They do, however, raise questions about a convicted felon's ties to former and current UNC basketball players.
In a statement Tuesday, a UNC spokesperson said, “All of our coaches, including Coach Williams, talk to their teams on a regular basis about making good choices and good decisions in all aspects of their lives, not just athletically but academically and socially. Coach Williams has often said that he is not just coaching for wins and losses, but to develop outstanding young men who make positive impacts around campus and in the community. And his teams’ track record over 25 years as a head coach has shown that to be the case on and off the court. Coach Williams has and will continue to stress to our students the importance of making those good choices and decisions.”