Hairston risks trust of coach, university
Posted July 10, 2013
Ask North Carolina head basketball coach Roy Williams about P.J. Hairston and he'll give you his standard answer. Williams will wait for all the facts to come in and he'll make a statement when said facts are all available.
North Carolina Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham went so far as to issue a statement backing Williams' sentiment about not making statements, explaining it's his common practice "not to comment on the individuals involved or the details surrounding these reports until we have sufficient understanding of the facts involved."
When you consider how Hairston's arrest in June evolved from initial reports of a simple marijuana possession to connections with a convicted felon's fleet of rental cars, the position taken by the university makes plenty of sense. The Durham Police Department hasn't upgraded any charges or revealed forensics on the gun found outside the 2013 GMC Yukon used on the night of the arrest. Then there's Haydn “Fats” Thomas complicating matters, even if he told WRAL that he doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
Hairston has driven Thomas' vehicles at least twice based his traffic stop history. Either he has incredibly bad luck, where the only instances he got behind the wheel of those cars were the same times he got popped, or Hairston made a habit of rolling around town in Thomas' rides.
Thomas said he let Miykael Faulcon, a basketball player at Elizabeth City State and a friend of Hairston, borrow the cars. However, the nine parking tickets issued this spring on UNC's campus to four different cars linked to Thomas certainly raise additional questions.
It's fair to question Thomas' credibility and his ties to North Carolina's basketball program. It took Thomas over a week to consistently stick to his talking points after emphatically claiming he didn't know anyone at Carolina. Along the way it was discovered he sold a phone to Tar Heels basketball player Leslie McDonald, was photographed with John Henson and left behind a social media trail of interaction with athletes. Thomas continues to put the onus on Faulcon, but his mother told USA Today that her son only has a connection to Hairston and that she hopes "the innocent remain innocent."
North Carolina doesn't have the benefit of hindsight in this situation, so it would be disingenuous not to take Cunningham at his word and believe they're still "gathering information" in Chapel Hill. The loose ends regarding Thomas might lead nowhere or they could unveil more impermissible benefits.
However, there is an individual who likely knows all the facts – Hairston.
The assumption would be the player laid all of this out to his coach in their first meeting following the arrest. If that's not the case, then Hairston will have more to worry about than the NCAA. Any level of trust between Williams and his leading scorer from last season would be torched.
Cunningham added in his statement that "where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions, Coach (Roy) Williams will take and I will support the appropriate disciplinary measures."
Hairston has been ticketed for speeding in a car that wasn't his, drove without a license in another vehicle that wasn't his and was cited for possession of marijuana. He doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship with a known felon, but he's certainly friends with a guy who does "odd jobs" for said felon. Then Hairston couldn't keep a low profile and was photographed shotgunning beers at the beach over a holiday weekend.
So I'd say "mistakes in judgment" have already occurred for Hairston, and Williams has enough to discipline his player as he sees fit.
The only question is whether or not the NCAA has any interest in adding to it.