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PJ Hairston Suspended Indefinitely From UNC Basketball

4:40 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
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Rachel Axon and Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina men's basketball player P.J. Hairston was charged with speeding and careless and reckless driving Sunday after being pulled over for driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone.

Late Sunday, it was announced that PJ Hairston was suspended from the team indefinitely, according to a statement posted on GoHeels.com, by the Athletics Department on behalf of Coach Roy Williams.

Hairston, 20, was driving a 2008 Acura TL southbound on Interstate 85 outside of Webb, N.C., where he was pulled over at 4:30 p.m. by the State Highway Patrol, said spokesman 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon.

Charges Dropped: Charges from June 5 arrest dropped

Hairston has an Aug. 30 court date in Rowan County.

The citation represents the latest off-court incident for Hairston, the Tar Heels' leading scorer last season, who in the last three months drove two rental cars linked to Durham resident Haydn "Fats" Thomas.

Thomas, 39, is a convicted felon and party promoter with ties to several area college athletes.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said in a statement on July 15 that Hairston committed "serious mistakes" and would face "serious consequences as a result." Without specifying the misconduct, Williams called the issues "embarrassing."

After being stopped at a license checkpoint June 5, Hairston was arrested on charges of possessing marijuana and driving without a license. The charges were dismissed July 19, a Durham County court clerk said, and Hairston complied with the conditions of the court, which included completing a drug assessment and providing his current driver's license.

USA TODAY Sports first reported that the 2013 GMC Yukon that Hairston was driving at the time was rented by Thomas from June 2-5 for $1,261.64, according to the Hertz rental receipt.

USA TODAY Sports also first reported that Hairston was cited for speeding May 13 while driving a 2012 Camaro SS that was rented by Catinia Farrington, a woman who shares the same home address as Thomas. Thomas has called Farrington his significant other.

After being stopped June 5, a 9-millimeter handgun and a magazine with nine rounds of ammunition were found outside the vehicle and seized during the traffic stop. Neither Hairston nor the two other passengers in the vehicle - Miykael Faulcon, 20, and Carlos Sanford, 23, both of Durham - faced charges related to the gun.

Thomas told USA TODAY Sports on July 3 that he had no relationship with Hairston. Thomas said he is a friend of Faulcon because they frequent clubs together and because Faulcon does "odd jobs" around Thomas' Durham home.

Thomas initially said that he rented the Yukon for himself and loaned it to Faulcon to take to the store. Thomas later said that Faulcon had told him that Faulcon and Hairston had planned to visit Atlanta that weekend for social gatherings. Faulcon and Hairston are close friends, said Faulcon's mother, Trudy Ransom.

Between February and May, four Hertz rental vehicles tied to Thomas received a total of nine unpaid parking citations on North Carolina's campus. The four vehicles - a 2012 GMC Yukon, a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2013 Mercedes Benz 350 and the Camaro SS - were rented by Thomas or Farrington from the Hertz facility at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

"Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply," Williams said in his statement earlier this month. "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."

Thomas has said in multiple phone interviews that he has yet to be contacted by the NCAA or by North Carolina.

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Elon University Associate Professor of Sports and Event Management Tony Weaver talked to WFMY News 2 about how college athlete's behavior can affect a program and a university. Weaver says UNC must be careful about how it reacts and responds to this situation with P.J. Hairston.

"They're establishing a protocol. I think people are paying attention to the decisions they are making and the actions that administration takes... The reaction by the administration is going to set the tone for future incidents," Weaver said.

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