Facing suspension, Hairston returns to UNC
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
After wading through an offseason filled with legal issues and a suspension, North Carolina junior guard P.J. Hairston is back on the basketball court.
Hairston “has earned the opportunity to practice with the team,” UNC coach Roy Williams announced Thursday afternoon. The Tar Heels begin practice on Friday.
UNC’s leading returning scorer will miss a yet-to-be-determined amount of games as part of the suspension, however.
“In 26 years as a head coach, I’ve never made the demands on a young man that I have made of P.J.,” Williams said in a statement. “To his credit, he accepted them without question. This is just the first step towards permanently earning his place back on the roster. He will have to sit out some games, but we haven’t yet determined how many that will be.
“PJ has done, to this point, everything he’s been asked to do, and done it with an outstanding attitude and a sense of remorse for his actions which put him in this position. He knows he made a series of mistakes and understands very clearly that he embarrassed his family, our program and the University. But he’s worked hard to get to where he could once again practice with the team.”
The series of mistakes that Williams is referring to:
- Hairston was suspended indefinitely on July 28, after being cited for speeding and careless and reckless driving, his third car-related issue of the offseason
- Back on June 5 after being stopped at a license checkpoint, Hairston was arrested on charges of possessing marijuana and driving without a license. The charges were dismissed July 19.
- Twice this summer, Hairston has been linked to Durham resident Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a convicted felon and party promoter with ties to several area college athletes. USA TODAY Sports reported that the car Hairston was driving on June 5 had been rented to Thomas. The car Hairston drove on May 13 – when he was again pulled over for speeding – was rented to a woman who shares the same address as Thomas.
Hairston averaged 14.6 points per game last season. He apologized in a statement Thursday.