UNC document: McDonald drove luxury cars provided by 'Fats' Thomas

acarter@newsobserver.comDecember 19, 2013 

Texas N Carolina Basketball

North Carolina's Leslie McDonald waits to enter the game against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)


  • McDonald penalties

    The NCAA revised several of its figures in relation to the value of impermissible benefits Leslie McDonald received:

    Use of cars: McDonald used four cars provided by Haydn “Fats” Thomas or Catinia Farrington. The revised value was $1,505.75. McDonald received parking citations while driving the cars totaling $153.52.

    iPhone: The NCAA’s revised value of the used iPhone McDonald purchased from Thomas was $124.19.

    Other benefits: The NCAA said McDonald received $50 in benefits from Iceberg Guards and $50 in lodging benefits while working at a summer basketball camp in Nags Head.

    Revised total of benefits: $1,883.46.

    Source: NCAA

— One car was a 2009 Porsche Cayenne, and another was a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro. There was a 2013 Mercedes 350, and a 2008 Audi A4. Those are the cars that Leslie McDonald periodically drove from early April through early June – the cars that helped cost him nine games of his senior season at North Carolina.

McDonald is eligible again. The NCAA cleared him Wednesday, ending one chapter of an impermissible benefits case that also involves P.J. Hairston, the UNC junior whose status remains in doubt.

After the Tar Heels’ 86-83 loss against Texas on Wednesday night, UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham released a statement in which he said he hoped Hairston’s case to be resolved by Friday.

In the meantime, the reinstatement request that UNC submitted to the NCAA on behalf of McDonald – a document that UNC released Wednesday – detailed how McDonald benefited from a relationship with Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham resident and felon who provided athletes access to high-end luxury vehicles.

McDonald and Thomas didn’t have a preexisting relationship, McDonald told investigators, but instead came to know each other through a man named Brint Hayes – a friend of McDonald and a business associate of Thomas. Hayes is a manager of Kiss Entertainment, which hosts parties throughout Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

The investigation revealed that Thomas provided the use of cars from April through early June, ending with Hairston’s arrest June 4 in Durham while he drove a 2013 GMC Yukon rented by Thomas. Specifically, according to McDonald, Thomas provided access to three cars: the Camaro, Mercedes and the Audi.

The Camaro and Mercedes were rentals. The Audi was not, but McDonald told investigators it was connected to Thomas. The Porsche McDonald drove is registered to Catina Farrington, who shares a Durham address with Thomas.

The investigation – UNC compliance officials and the NCAA Enforcement Staff played a role – determined McDonald didn’t receive vehicles directly from Thomas. It determined that McDonald “shared access to these three vehicles” – all except the Porsche – with Miykael Faulcon, an Elizabeth City State basketball player from Durham, and another UNC basketball player whose name is redacted in the public version of the reinstatement request. Presumably, that is Hairston.

UNC determined that McDonald used the vehicles 25 percent of the time between April 1 and May 15, when Faulcon was still in school in Elizabeth City, and McDonald’s teammate used the vehicles 75 percent of the time.

From May 15 through June 5, UNC determined that Faulcon used the vehicles 33 percent of the time, and that 66 percent of the time the two UNC basketball players used them. Within that 66 percent, UNC concluded that McDonald used the vehicles 25 percent of the time.

Faulcon interviewed with the NCAA Enforcement Staff on Oct. 7.

“Mr. Faulcon reported that Mr. McDonald was provided access to a vehicle when Mr. Faulcon and (redacted) were not using it,” UNC wrote in McDonald’s reinstatement request. “Mr. McDonald reported that access was usually provided for ‘a couple of hours’ at a time.”

McDonald’s use of vehicles was the primary reason that he missed nine games. UNC and the NCAA determined the monetary value of the use of those vehicles to be more than $1,500. While driving them, McDonald also compiled more than $150 in parking tickets.

The impermissible benefits he accepted also included a mouth guard and lodging at a basketball camp – both valued at $50 – and a used iPhone, valued at $124.19. The NCAA ruled that McDonald must pay $1,783 to a charity of his choice before the regular season ends.

After his first game back, McDonald was asked Wednesday night what he learned throughout his ordeal.

“Just got to be careful, you know,” he said. “That’s the thing, you can’t take things for granted.”

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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