CHAPEL HILL — More than a month after the arrest of his best player and the controversy that followed it, North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Monday broke his silence and admonished P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels junior guard whose actions have brought further embarrassment to the UNC athletic department.
P.J. and I have had several discussions already and he knows he has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result, Williams said in a statement released by North Carolina on Monday.
Durham police in early June arrested Hairston and charged him with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. At the time of his arrest, Hairston was driving a 2013 GMC Yukon that had been rented by Haydn Fats Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon with a lengthy criminal background.
Before his arrest, Hairston received a speeding ticket while driving another rental car that has been linked to Thomas. In addition to the legal issues that Hairston faces, his actions have raised questions about the possibility of NCAA violations.
Driving a rental car that was paid for by another person could be considered an impermissible benefit. If so, Hairston could face NCAA-mandated penalties in addition to the consequences that Williams referenced.
Certainly the idea of suspending P.J. has been discussed, Williams said. However, he is not currently enrolled in summer school, is not practicing with the team and we have no games until November. There are several options available in terms of discipline, but we are going to wait until the process is complete to decide on those options.
Since Hairstons arrest, Williams had repeatedly declined to comment. His statement came after The News & Observer on Saturday reported details of the police narrative of Hairstons arrest.
According to the detailed police report, Hairston told police he received the Yukon from Thomas. Thomas told USA Today that he didnt give the Yukon to Hairston but instead to Miykael Faulcon, a basketball player at Elizabeth City State who was a passenger in the Yukon the night of the arrest.
Police charged Faulcon and Carlos Sanford of Durham, another passenger in the Yukon, with misdemeanor marijuana possession. According to the police narrative, which was obtained by The News & Observer, Hairston drove the Yukon but attempted to switch places with Faulcon before approaching a license checkpoint on the night of June 5.
When police stopped the vehicle, authorities found two bags with a small amount of marijuana inside. According to the police narrative, an officer smelled the odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside of the vehicle. Authorities also found a 9mm handgun and more marijuana about 75 yards away from the checkpoint, where Hairston had originally stopped to trade places with Faulcon.
Police havent identified the owner of the gun, and neither Hairston nor his passengers face charges related to it. Hairston denied throwing anything from the vehicle before the checkpoint, and he told police that he didnt see Faulcon or Sanford discard anything, either.
According to the report, Hairston denied smoking marijuana the day of his arrest.
Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana on a regular basis, however, he is a recreational smoker, the report said. Mr. Hairston stated that he does not smoke marijuana to get high, but he will take a hit or two occasionally.
Hairston told police that he planned to drive the Yukon to Atlanta to see friends. The Yukon and other vehicles that Thomas has rented have been found on the North Carolina campus, according to an online database of campus parking tickets.
Hairstons arrest and the controversy that has followed is another problem for North Carolinas athletic department, which has been attempting to move on following a drawn-out football scandal that officially ended in March 2012 with NCAA sanctions that included a one-year postseason ban.
Since then, the department has been plagued with other issues. There was a leak last summer of Julius Peppers transcript, which showed that Peppers, an All-American football player during his time at North Carolina, relied heavily on Afro- and African-American Studies courses to remain eligible. The university has been forced to answer questions about whether athletes benefited from suspect AFAM classes over a range of years.
Williams in his statement on Monday didnt reference specifics related to Hairston or the rental cars, but his frustration showed.
Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply, Williams said. Our basketball program is based on great ideals and these issues are embarrassing.
These are not common in my 10 years as head coach at UNC and they will all be dealt with harshly and appropriately at the correct time to ensure that our program will not be compromised.
Steve Kirschner, an athletic department spokesman, said on Monday that members of North Carolinas compliance office remain in regular contact with the NCAA, though Kirschner declined to answer how much discussion UNC and the NCAA have had regarding the Hairston case.
Emily Potter, a spokesperson for the NCAA, wrote in an email that any penalties in impermissible benefits cases are determined on a case-by-case basis. Its unclear whether the NCAA would consider Hairstons use of the rental cars to be an impermissible benefit.
Regardless, Williams in his statement spoke of serious corrective action.
We will care about each individual but there will be serious actions taken that will fix these issues, he said. I take pride in our values and how we have conducted ourselves for a long time here at Carolina and this time will pass but it will be dealt with strongly.
We are talking about a program that has been a model of success on and off the court and it will be again.
Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter