For better or worse (OK, all for worse), college basketball has been the stage for the Summer of P.J. UNC star junior forward P.J. Hairston is currently indefinitely suspended because of a third run-in with law enforcement back in late July.
Hairston was caught and cited for allegedly doing 93 miles per hour in a 65 MPH zone while driving a female friend's car. This citation came came just days after Hairston had all charges against him dropped related to a June 5 arrest in which he and two other men were stopped and seized after marijuana and drug paraphernalia was found in the 2013 GMC Yukon Hairston was driving.
Hairston was not the owner of the Yukon. It was rented, reportedly by a man named Haydn "Fats" Thomas, who happens to be an ex-convict. That was the second of Hairston's run-ins with the law this offseason. The first came in early May, when Hairston was stopped while reportedly driving a rented 2012 Chevy Camaro. The car was in the name of a woman who reportedly shares a mailing address with Thomas.
This kind of pattern naturally caused suspicion to float UNC's way. What was the basketball program's star player doing driving rented cars to begin with, and why was an ex-convict involved?
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams recently said he's "tired" of discussing the Hairston situation, offering no timeline on a suspension, while the North Carolina athletic director said late last week Hairston will definitely miss time for the upcoming season -- but a year-long suspension isn't in the forecast.
Star player driving rented cars tied to a man who's been behind bars. Reason for worry? Some might say yes. Reason for further investigation? Reason for North Carolina to put in a call and try to contact Thomas? Apparently not. USA Today's Eric Prisbell reported Monday that neither UNC nor the NCAA have reached out to Thomas -- via his attorney -- about his relationship with Hairston or anyone at UNC.
Neither the NCAA nor UNC has contacted Fats Thomas' attorney, Randy Griffin, about speaking with Fats.— Eric Prisbell (@EricPrisbell) August 19, 2013
PJ Hairston drove two rentals linked to Fats, whose attorney says he hasn't been contacted by NCAA or UNC about speaking with client.— Eric Prisbell (@EricPrisbell) August 19, 2013
Thomas had nine rental cars in his name ticketed on UNC's campus this year. He's denied specifically knowing Hairston, though previous reports have him being photographed with former UNC athletes before, like current Milwaukee Buck John Henson.
This news will rile up the anti-UNC folk. And it will call into question, again, the nature of the NCAA and how it operates in its investigations and doling out enforcement. On a related note, the organization recently touted its new, overhauled plan and re-adaptation -- including implementing a new staff -- for enforcement.