North Carolina

UNC's McDonald cleared to play

Posted December 18, 2013

— Leslie McDonald is cleared to rejoin the Tar Heels, who take on Texas Wednesday night at the Smith Center, according to an announcement from the NCAA.

The statement made no mention of the University of North Carolina's other sidelined player, P.J. Hairston, other than to say McDonald's was the only request for reinstatement that UNC had filed.

"I feel blessed to play again for Carolina. I truly regret putting my family, UNC and my teammates and coaches through this," said McDonald in a statement released by the school Wednesday. "I am going to enjoy every minute of this second chance and play as hard as I can to help my teammates and coaches as they have helped me."

"We are certainly glad to have this issue resolved for Leslie. It has been a terrible time for Leslie and his family and our basketball team," head coach Roy Williams said. "Leslie has one more semester to contribute to our team and finish his degree. I feel sure he will be truly dedicated to accomplishing both of those goals."

McDonald, a senior guard, was found to have received "multiple impermissible extra benefits," the NCAA wrote. He has missed nine games, and he will have to give $1,783 to a charity of his choice by the end of the regular season.

McDonald got access to cars, hotel rooms, a cell phone and saw his campus parking tickets paid, according to findings by UNC and the NCAA.

"These issues have had an effect on not only Leslie, but his coaches, teammates and everyone who supports our program," athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. "He made some mistakes and faced serious consequences as a result, but I am glad for Leslie that he is able to return."

The NCAA's statement did not specifically mention McDonald's use of custom mouth guards from Iceberg Holdings, a company founded by UNC dental school grad and Durham resident Spencer Howard. UNC issued a cease-and-desist letter to the company in July, asking them to discontinue using images of McDonald in their advertising.

Howard is the cousin and business partner of Haydn "Fats" Thomas, the Durham party promoter with connections to Hairston and other current and former Tar Heels athletes.

Documents and social media posts also tie Thomas, a convicted felon, to former basketball players John Henson, Dexter Strickland and Harrison Barnes and former UNC football player Greg Little.

Thomas first made news in June after rental vehicles driven by 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.

Hairston and Henson were also pictured with Thomas in a photograph posted to Facebook.

McDonald tweeted last year that he got a cell phone from Thomas.  "Yeah all I did is restore it and activated it," he wrote.

According to the NCAA, UNC submitted the first request that McDonald be reinstated last Wednesday and the complete request for reinstatement on December 17. "At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina," the NCAA wrote.

76 Comments

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  • Ken D. Dec 19, 8:37 a.m.

    Glad McDonald is cleared to play. At this point, I wonder if PJ will ever play again for Roy. ... View More

    — Posted by StunGunn

    If he's not going to play college ball this year and he can't even behave for one summ... View More

    — Posted by tlg0022

    I never thought PJ would be around next year (I was surprised when he said he was returning last... View More

    — Posted by StunGunn

    It gives him no advantage. It could, however, help Carolina if he were to withdraw from school before the start of the semester. If he is no longer a student, and member of the team, then he doesn't count in the calculation of UNC's APR for that semester. If he enrolls for the spring semester, and then drops out, UNC takes an APR hit.

  • StunGunn Dec 19, 6:16 a.m.

    Glad McDonald is cleared to play. At this point, I wonder if PJ will ever play again for Roy. ... View More

    — Posted by StunGunn

    If he's not going to play college ball this year and he can't even behave for one summ... View More

    — Posted by tlg0022

    I never thought PJ would be around next year (I was surprised when he said he was returning last spring) - whether he laces 'em up for Roy or not. I just don't understand why he'd declare now. What advantage does it give him to do that?

  • huxter72 Dec 18, 10:05 p.m.

    Young McDonald's cleared to play,
    E I E I O!
    And PJ Hairston's on his way,
    E I E I O!

    — Posted by cjw6105

    Not so fast, according to sources close to the team and Yahoo sports Hairston is considering the... View More

    — Posted by tlg0022

    So what! Let the SOB go. Only a hood anyway.

  • Alex25 Dec 18, 8:54 p.m.

    Not sure if any UNCCH student-athlete in any sport has been serious about school in the past 25 years. Just not sure ……… it doesn't seem they are in anyway concerned in C Hill about the scandal.

  • Leave it to Beaver Reruns Dec 18, 7:56 p.m.

    Jabari Parker ......

    “Out of concern for student-athletes safety and wellbeing, NCAA membership... View More

    — Posted by sportznutV2.1

    Are you still sharing a screen name with your buddies like you used to, because I think the slow one might have posted under your name again. Do you really need it explained to you the difference between this and McDonald

  • BeastieBoy Dec 18, 7:33 p.m.

    I can't believe they displayed PJ's rap sheet on national TV. And just think, Roy snubbed John Wall for much less criminal activity. Bet he wishes he had that to think over one more time.

  • BeastieBoy Dec 18, 7:13 p.m.

    Yes, by all means, put McDonald in. May as well, no one else is able to do anything.

  • BeastieBoy Dec 18, 6:53 p.m.

    Under my skin, you say? Exactly! Kind of looks like the other way around there doesn't it my power puff boyzz in blue. Under my skin? No. Can dish it out but are a little lacking in the taking department, now aren't we.

    Now it's time to see a real Texas bar-b-que. Good luck boyzz!

    Point made. My work here is (well) done! Bite moi!

  • CarolinaClassy Dec 18, 6:43 p.m.

    UNC fans have done nothing but point at everyone else while it's investigation after... View More

    We do point at the man who made the assist, if that's what you mean.

    Dean taught us that, and Roy keeps it going strong. It values teamwork...something dook and state college might want to bone up on.

    #HEELBLOOD!!!
    #MACisBACK!!!
    #STOMP!!!

  • tlg0022 Dec 18, 6:42 p.m.

    Young McDonald's cleared to play,
    E I E I O!
    And PJ Hairston's on his way,
    E I E I O!

    — Posted by cjw6105

    Not so fast, according to sources close to the team and Yahoo sports Hairston is considering the... View More

    — Posted by tlg0022

    Huh? He would be considering the draft anyway even if he were playing this year.

    — Posted by ER Tar Heel

    Let me rephrase, he is prepping for the draft because he won't be playing this year.

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