P.J. Hairston's career over at UNC
Posted December 20, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — 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.