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North Carolina

P.J. Hairston's career over at UNC

Posted December 20, 2013

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced on Friday that it will not seek reinstatement from the NCAA for basketball guard P.J. Hairston.

A Greensboro native, Hairston has already missed 10 games this season due to eligibility issues.

"Unfortunately, P.J. made a number of mistakes that placed his eligibility at risk, and the university's joint review with the NCAA made it clear that seeking reinstatement for P.J. would not be possible," director of athletics Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "The university thanks him for his contributions to Carolina basketball."

Hairston averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game for the Tar Heels a year ago. In the course of his 71-game Carolina career, he scored 707 points and made 127 three-pointers.

Head coach Roy Williams said in a statement Friday that Hairston has been "outstanding" since being involved in several incidents over the summer.

"I am extremely disappointed for P.J., his family and our team as he will no longer be playing basketball at North Carolina," Williams said. "P.J. made mistakes, and I was very disappointed by his actions, and now he is suffering the very difficult consequences. He is not a bad kid; he just made some mistakes."

On May 13, Hairston was pulled over for speeding in a rented Chevrolet Camaro. The address on that rental traced back to convicted felon and party promoter Haydn "Fats" Thomas. On Oct. 11, Hairston paid a $15 fee for the ticket and $188 in court costs.

Bill Thomas, a Durham-based attorney for Thomas, said his client met with school officials Dec. 10 for "an in-depth interview ... to clear up any misconception about the relationship between Haydn Thomas and Mr. Hairston." Thomas said he invited NCAA officials "but they elected not to participate."

Thomas has been linked to other area student-athletes, including Hairston's former teammate Leslie McDonald, who was reinstated by the NCAA Wednesday after missing nine games for accepting impermissible benefits.

But Hairston's troubles went beyond NCAA eligibility.

On June 5, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license when he was stopped in a silver GMC Yukon at a checkpoint in Durham.

Durham County prosecutors dismissed those charges on July 22 after Hairston showed proof that he had a driver's license and had completed a drug assessment program.

Hairston was cited in July with speeding and careless and reckless driving. First Sgt. Jeff Gordon, with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, said Hairston was driving 93 mph in a 65-mph zone on southbound Interstate 85 near Salisbury. Hairston pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and paid a fine.

Williams suspended the Tar Heels’ leading scorer July 29 following his third arrest and punished him with what the coach called " an extremely intense conditioning program."

"He has been called a 'perfect teammate' by one of our other players," Williams said Friday. "He has dominated our practices and, at times, has been as good as any perimeter player I have ever coached, giving great effort to help our team. He cares deeply about Carolina and the basketball program."

Cunningham said Friday that the university wishes the incident would have turned out differently.

"I know everyone, from P.J. and his family, to the basketball team, our fans and the media, wanted this process to play out faster than it did," he said. "We first learned of this situation back in the summer and getting to this point took a great deal of time because the University, the NCAA and P.J.'s family took great care to learn as many of the facts as were possible to learn."

Leslie McDonald, a UNC senior, also has ties to Thomas, but he was allowed to return to the court Wednesday after a nine-game suspension. He was greeted by a standing ovation as he checked into the game, and he finished UNC's 86-83 loss to Texas with 15 points .

The NCAA found McDonald accepted "multiple impermissible extra benefits," including access to cars, hotel rooms and a cellphone.

278 Comments

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  • LuvsThePack Dec 21, 9:56 p.m.

    Did anything like this happen during the Dean Smith era? I can't remember anything like... View More

    — Posted by The Beatles

    They just didn't get caught when Deannose was at the helm.

  • romey5 Dec 21, 5:33 p.m.

    OK - Let's stop the madness. First, the semantic argument 'kid' vs 'man'. To a sixty something year old man, a twenty something year old man is 'kid'. PJ is of legal age and because of that he has no one to blame for this except himself. But so many of you are taking this way too far. How many young people in their late teens to early twenties lose their lives because they make a few bad decisions? How many more in that group would cause themselves and their families major embarrassment for those poor decisions if their lives were in the spotlight? Most of you don't know P.J. at all and think you are qualified to judge his character and his upbringing based on his poor decisions. Hypocrites, drop your stones! What you should be able to do is think back to your young adulthood(I know some of us have to think farther back than others) and remember decisions you made that were foolish. Then, thank your God that you survived. Or, maybe you can see your son or daughter in PJ realizing they could make similar mistakes. Does it matter if the drug is weed, cocaine or alcohol? Does it matter if they are experimenting themselves or are in the car with someone who is? People are dying and the self-righteous are busy judging. If we had to be judged by our bad decisions, how many would be UNC material? This blog smells of hypocrisy! Rather than listen to a bunch of folk that don't know PJ from a whole in the wall, I'll just take Coach Williams at his word 'bad decisions, but not a bad kid.' That puts PJ in the boat with the rest of us humans. PJ I hope you have accepted full responsibility for what has happened. Know that some of us are praying for you that you will learn from this experience and go on to accomplish great things on and off the court - not for the sake of the naysayers. Their opinions really don't matter. But for your sake, the sake of those who really care for you and for your God who made you who you are.

  • Objective Scientist Dec 21, 5:25 p.m.

    My wife, who is an actual UNC alum, is glad Hairston is not coming back. People like him and... View More

    — Posted by NCSUclassof90

    Your wife and I are on the same page on this matter. Like her... I am a UNC alumnus... multiple times... and I am sure - like her - I love "my university, have GREAT memories of my time there as a student... but also like her - as a proud alumnus I am embarrassed by all the athletic "stuff" over the past 3-4 years. All of that very much misrepresents the broader UNC as an institution of higher education. And... like her, I am glad Hairston is not returning! Would I love to have a guy his size and overall ability - esp. hitting the 3s - on the team at anytime? Absolutely... but, NOT with the baggage he brings to the program and to UNC! Some keep "harping on" the "weed"/marijuana part as being "unfair"... the baggage Hairston brings contains far more than a "little weed"?

  • Objective Scientist Dec 21, 5:16 p.m.

    Post by bblack: And my point was less about Hairston specifically, than how this charge (marijuana poss) is so "terrible" and marijuana (which I do not partake in) is such a "terrible" criminal offense... Yet we can all get smashed (inebriated/under the influence of a narcotic) at the Aplha Betta Zig house after the game... But that's just tailgating right?"

    bblack - if - IF - all that Hairston did was "use a little weed" - we would not be having this conversation and Hairston would likely have been "raining 3s" for most of the game played up to this point. As I said... there is MUCH more on Hairston's plate than a particular green plant. As far as your Alpha Betta Zig house example... a UNC athlete should not be a participant in that for reasons I stated in a earlier post. As for you, me, and others? If we are of legal "drinking age" we could become inebriated with alcohol... either sleep it off at the Zig house, or have someone drive us home... and that is a no harm, no foul situation. If we were to possess/use/sell a controlled substance... it does not matter where... we could potential get in trouble. Probably... to view that as "just tailgating" is oversimplification of the circumstances. Regardless, if you or I were to take part in that tailgate party... we run some risk of "getting into trouble". If a UNC athlete were to take part in that tailgate... it is a virtual certainty he would end up in some sort of trouble - from "just a little" to a "HEAP O' TROUBLE"!!!

  • NCSUclassof90 Dec 21, 4:59 p.m.

    My wife, who is an actual UNC alum, is glad Hairston is not coming back. People like him and all those football players and the agent on the coaching staff and the professor who taught the imaginary classes and the tutor and . . . (well you get the picture) are making her ashamed of her university. She has stopped donating money, but not cheering for her teams. It has gotten so bad that I actually stopped giving her grief about the tarholes. It started making us both sad.

  • bblack Dec 21, 4:46 p.m.

    Just calling it like I see it. He picked his own criminal lifestyle, not me. What's even... View More

    — Posted by 82ndAAHeel

    Appreciate your service 82ndAA and for representing the Heels in that role as well. I also... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    daggum... kid has a little weed and he has a "criminal lifestyle"... Sports/Front... View More

    — Posted by bblack

    I don't need to step back and think about what I said. I thought about it before writing... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    I was replying to 82nd and his first statement... I realize your comment was attached.

    And my point was less about Hairston specifically, than how this charge (marijuana poss) is so "terrible" and marijuana (which I do not partake in) is such a "terrible" criminal offense... Yet we can all get smashed (inebriated/under the influence of a narcotic) at the Aplha Betta Zig house after the game... But that's just tailgating right?

  • Objective Scientist Dec 21, 4:27 p.m.

    Just calling it like I see it. He picked his own criminal lifestyle, not me. What's even... View More

    — Posted by 82ndAAHeel

    Appreciate your service 82ndAA and for representing the Heels in that role as well. I also... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    daggum... kid has a little weed and he has a "criminal lifestyle"... Sports/Front... View More

    — Posted by bblack

    I don't need to step back and think about what I said. I thought about it before writing it and during the writing of it... which is far more than many do in these forums. I'd suggest you "think about" what you wrote. YOU may be able to have "some weed", no one thinks twice about it... unless you get "busted" with it and then it may receive just a little - very little - thought by someone. However, PJ Hairston, or Paige, or McAdoo, or... name any UNC player, gets "busted" with a "little weed" and the media hypes it to no end. YOU could drive autos rented and provided to you by someone else... no "big deal" to anyone! The person renting said vehicles for your use could even be a felon... again, no 'big deal". YOU don't matter like a UNC basketball player does. YOU don't represent the UNIVERSITY, like a UNC basketball player does. See where this is going? Fair or not... that is the way it is. And - IMO - it is fair! A UNC basketball player like Hairston is given an opportunity to earn a college degree - in nuclear physics or dramatic arts or sociology, etc., etc. from a highly respected university... and is treated like a "God" both on and off campus due to his standing as a UNC athlete, provided with the absolute BEST of EVERYTHING... practice and playing venues, equipment, housing, food, books, computers, coaching (which increases his opportunity and value at the next level) by multi-million dollar and HOF coaches, first class travel all over the country, sometimes world, first class hotels, meals, etc., etc., etc. He pays for NONE of that! For all of that - what does he have to do? Play a sport that he dearly loves to play! I don't think it is asking too much of such athletes to "behave themselves". "Weed"... not as innocuous as some in this forum think it to be - is not the only matter of concern with Hairston! There is much more! And he did it... on the front porch in front of the world!!

  • bblack Dec 21, 3:18 p.m.

    Just calling it like I see it. He picked his own criminal lifestyle, not me. What's even... View More

    — Posted by 82ndAAHeel

    Appreciate your service 82ndAA and for representing the Heels in that role as well. I also... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    daggum... kid has a little weed and he has a "criminal lifestyle"... Sports/Front Porches/"Role Models" aside... Step back and think about what you just said...

    He has a criminal lifestyle for having some weed...
    But don't forget Beta Beta Zetta's KEGGER Friday night!!!! AHHHH we're gonna get WASTED!!!!

  • Objective Scientist Dec 21, 2:57 p.m.

    Just calling it like I see it. He picked his own criminal lifestyle, not me. What's even... View More

    — Posted by 82ndAAHeel

    Appreciate your service 82ndAA and for representing the Heels in that role as well. I also appreciate your observations. For me... I have to ask "Is the 'gangsta image" compatable with higher education?" I can't imagine anyone, in or outside of higher education, responding any other way than with a resounding "NO"! If, big "IF", we have a good athlete - who may very well be a "likeable kid" like Wall - and who also has the legitimate "academic chops" to be legitimately admitted as a student - they must - MUST - be informed in no uncertain terms of behavioral expectations and punishments specified for violatiion of those expectations - that are NOT at the discretion of the coach. Such athletes who have adopted the "gangsta" live style must be made to understand that the "gangsta image" and behaviors will NOT be tolerated in higher education. If they wish... and they are good enough to make to the next level - the NFL/NBA - and wish to resume that lifestyle at that point... they can do so and will "fit right in"... but they need to know... by examples set by collegiate athletic programs and the universities of which those program are part of - that there are explicit expections with regard to both academic performance and behavior and that violation of those expectations will cost THEM - the athletes - severely!

  • Objective Scientist Dec 21, 2:41 p.m.

    .. ..hate to say it my friend, but you are absatively posilutely wrong.. ..he may be 6'5&qu... View More

    — Posted by rushbot

    1. Thank you, and your sons for their service.

    2. Prefrontal Cortex (controls reasoning and... View More

    — Posted by bblack

    I know some people well past 25... even into their 50s or beyond, who seem to have never matured... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    And b/c he is an athlete, he is held to a higher standard of moral judgement? Even kids who... View More

    — Posted by bblack

    bblack - you make some good points. However, with regard to your first question, which is basically "are athletes held to a higher standard?", I say the following:

    Time and again I have heard college athletics described as being "the front porch" of our universities. Athletic programs are often "justified" because they are vividly "on the front porch" and therefore greatly "publicize" the university. Often times we read about applications to a university increasing, sometimes dramatically, following the winning of a national championship in basketball... or a major bowl in football. There is no doubt that for the major revenue producing sports of basketball and football... those programs are indeed "on the front porch" of the university, and that is certainly evident for UNC! This "being on the front porch", however, is that proverbial "double-edges sword" - it "cuts both ways". Positive things like winning championships is "good" for the university... however, negative things like what has gone on with footballers like Austin and Little, and basketballers McDonald and Hairston are "not good" for the university. Do you think the "average Joe" or "Fraternity Fred" student who had done the same thing Hairston did would have caused the same negative publicity for the university? I think not. Athletes given the privilege and many potential opportunities afforded them by being a scholarship athlete in the two marquee sports of basketball and football are - IMO - justifiably held to a "higher standard" because unlike "average Joe" and "fraternity Fred" - they are "ON THE FRONT PORCH" where everything they say or do WILL be publicized and - right or wrong - "hyped" by the media. Other students who are relatively speaking, on the back porch, can wear their "dirty underwear" all day/every day and they are barely noticed... athletes who do that are on local/national TV, in the N & O here in NC, and in USA Today! Fair or not

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