P.J. Hairston got free rides. It appears he got a lot of them. And he can no longer hide.
Neither can North Carolina.
The Tar Heels know enough now—or the public knows enough, you decide—that Roy Williams finally broke his silence on Monday in response to his star player's legal and decision-making problems.
In a statement released by UNC (via The Fayetteville Observer) Williams said that Hairston "has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences."
Tell us something we don't know.
Because we knew that. We knew Hairston had made mistakes.
Those mistakes have been documented over the last month. The newest piece of the puzzle came from The News & Observer in Raleigh on Friday. A narrative police report from Hairston's June 5 arrest revealed that he switched seats with one of his passengers before a Durham checkpoint and later admitted to police that he had been driving.
Hairston was driving without a license and with marijuana in the car. There was also more marijuana and a gun found along the street where the vehicle had stopped before the checkpoint. Hairston and his passengers claimed they knew nothing about that.
The car was a GMC Yukon, rented by Haydn Thomas, a convicted felon. Hairston was also caught speeding on May 13 in a car rented by Catinia Farrington, the roommate of Thomas. From Feb. 14 through June 25, Thomas and Farrington spent $15,020.35 on vehicle rentals, Eric Prisbell of USA Today reported.
Thomas told Prisbell weeks ago he didn't know Hairston. That's obviously bogus.
There's a lot here for anyone that can put dumb and dumb together that there's something fishy going on here. Hairston, as I wrote last week, could be in trouble with the NCAA.
But how much trouble should Hairston be in with UNC? Here's Williams' statement:
I initially decided not to make a statement about P.J. (Hairston) until the legal process had been finalized. I believe that is the fair way that everyone should be treated and is the way of our country.
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. 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.
Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply. 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.
We will care about each individual, but there will be serious actions taken that will fix these issues. 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. I want to thank our fans for their patience, understanding and support.
Obviously, Williams is going to punish Hairston. And it's going to be "serious." But what is serious?
Is serious a five-game suspension? Is it booting Hairston from the team? Is it taking away the keys from his newest ride provided by a convicted felon? Williams left himself a lot of wiggle room.
But at least he said something. The situation called for it at this point. Williams doesn't owe us—the public—anything. But he owes it to his team and university to shed them in the best light possible. And that's probably why he's talking now.
He knows enough to know this is not good.
And if that's the case—he just now knows all of this and is finding out the details as we are—then Hairston again looks bad. That means that Hairston has dodged the truth with his coach. And the police report indicates he's pretty experienced in that department.
If that's the case—if Hairston lied to his coach—then a "serious consequence" is necessary whether the law is kind or unkind to Hairston.
Flip the scenario—Williams knew everything all along and was hoping Hairston and the program could hide from this—then that looks bad on the program and coach.
At this point, Williams deserves the benefit of the doubt. Hairston doesn't.
Williams was right for speaking up, but this is far from over. And he deserves the time to digest and learn for himself what else there is to this story.
At the point when Williams finally knows enough and acts, when the "serious consequence" is delivered, then we can judge the coach and the Tar Heels.
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