Hairston still faces UNC, NCAA questions after June charges dropped

acarter@newsobserver.comJuly 22, 2013 

The misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and driving without a license that P.J. Hairston faced after his June 5 arrest in Durham have been dropped, a Durham County clerk of court said Monday. Even so, Hairston, the UNC-Chapel Hill junior guard, still faces questions about how he came to drive rental cars paid for by a felon with a long criminal history, and what impact that might have on his NCAA eligibility.

A court clerk said Monday that Hairston had produced his license, which led to the dismissal of that charge, and also completed a state drug assessment program, which led to the dismissal of the marijuana possession charge.

After his arrest, Hairston, who had been driving a rented 2013 GMC Yukon, told Durham police he received the vehicle from “Fats” – a reference to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham resident and felon who faces felony drug and gun charges.

The rental receipt confirmed Thomas paid for it. Before the June 5 arrest, Hairston received a speeding ticket in another rental car, a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro that has been linked to Thomas. Hairston faces an Aug. 2 court date for the speeding ticket.

Using a rental car paid for by another person could be considered an impermissible benefit under NCAA rules.

UNC has said it is gathering information about the situation.

According to NCAA guidelines, there are steps a school must follow if it determines an athlete has violated rules that affect eligibility:

• It must declare the athlete ineligible.

• It must investigate, gather facts and submit a reinstatement request to the NCAA.

• The NCAA then reviews the case and may reinstate, reinstate with conditions or deny the request to reinstate.

It’s possible Hairston could face an NCAA-mandated suspension in addition to whatever punishment he might face from UNC coach Roy Williams, who last week said Hairston would face “serious consequences” for his actions.

“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 UNC released last week. “Certainly the idea of suspending P.J. has been discussed.

“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.”

The legal process, at least, is over for Hairston after Durham police stopped him and two passengers at a license checkpoint. After smelling an odor of burnt marijuana, police arrested Hairston and his passengers and charged them with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Hairston was also charged with driving without a license.

Before approaching the checkpoint, Hairston according to a detailed police narrative, switched places in the driver’s seat with one of his passengers, Miykael Faulcon, a basketball player at Elizabeth City State. Police found marijuana and a 9mm handgun outside the Yukon, where it stopped before proceeding to the checkpoint.

Faulcon and Carlos Sanford, another passenger in the Yukon, still face pending misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. Both have court dates Aug. 6.

During an interview with police, Hairston, Faulcon and Sanford denied possessing the gun, and also denied throwing it or anything else from the vehicle.

Durham police said earlier this month that none of the three would face charges related to the gun.