Posted: 8:45 p.m. Friday, July 12, 2013
By Brian Barbour
Dan Kane's piece summarizing the report can be found here for your full reading.
The two items that bear the most importance are P.J. Hairston admitting to being a recreational marijuana user, with his last use coming two weeks prior to the arrest. Hairston also says Haydn "Fatts" Thomas rented the Yukon so he could take a trip to Atlanta to see friends.
Aside from that, the arrest played out about like you would expect. Hairston was driving but they stopped prior to the checkpoint to switch seats because Hairston realized he was unable to find his license. The stop raised suspicions with the Durham officers running the checkpoint which probably let to a more in-depth look at them and the car. There were questions by the arresting officers as to whether Hairston and passengers Carlos Sanford and Miykael Faulcon were being truthful.
How much does this information change what we already knew? It certainly fleshes out the details and the admission from Hairston they the Yukon was rented for his trip to Atlanta raises eyebrows. And to no one surprise CBS Sports' Gary Parrish is reporting the NCAA is about to take a hard look at Hairston. Not that anyone needed a source to know that was going to happen. It does constitute the first sourced confirmation of what everyone knew was coming.
So the worst case scenario goes like this. Hairston, having admitted the car was rented for his use, is on the hook for that rental with the NCAA. Couple that with Hairston being cited for speeding in a rented Camaro connected to Thomas, the NCAA goes on to conclude Hairston is in the "thousands of dollars" range for impermissible benefits. If that is the case, he's probably done in Chapel Hill. At this point, I don't think the NCAA would extend a probe into the program as a whole. I still think, based on what we know, this is an individual player issue but one can never tell what will pop up next.
The best case scenario is the rental was for Hairston, Faulcon and possibly others to go to Atlanta. If there are others that include a non-student athlete, it might mitigate the damage to some extent. Even if it can be argued the Yukon wasn't exclusive for Hairston but also intended for the benefit of others, there is still going to be some NCAA blowback. The connection to the other rental coupled with this one guarantees that. The question is whether an explanation can be made that shows Hairston only occasionally used the rentals leading the NCAA to ding Hairston with some sort of impermissible benefit value that carries only a suspension. At this point, it could happen but that would mean the stream of facts about the rentals would need to take a turn in a positive direction which doesn't seem likely.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn't address the fact Hairston admitted smoking marijuana. In this day and age, given that the use of the drug is not even illegal in all fifty states anymore, this is probably not a huge deal. In fact were you to take a poll, you would find most people probably think a lot of college students use pot. Obviously it is against the law and in the case of Hairston against NCAA rules but as far as we know he hasn't failed any drug tests. Granted that is not information the public would necessarily know but for now it's what we know. Assuming Hairston was clean for his tests during the season and was truthful with UNC after the arrest I am hard pressed to understand how this admission is a major problem.
It is that second part which could be something to watch. The hope all along as been that any information slipping into the public arena was already known by UNC before it came out. The extent of the rental car connections with parking tickets and Hairston speeding ticket may have not been fully known but anything related to the arrest should have been. If that is the case then UNC already knew about Hairston's admissions and may have even seen the report made public today. It would not surprise me if Hairston was subjected to a drug test the moment the words "marijuana possession" made its first appearance. However, if Hairston didn't give UNC everything and anything in the Kane article today is a surprise to Bubba Cunningham and Roy Williams, the odds Hairston remains a Tar Heel would be very slim indeed.
At this stage, it is probable UNC has and has had a fairly good grasp of the facts in this case. It is also a safe bet, UNC and the NCAA have been in constant contact on the information in hand. That is why reports that the NCAA is going to step into this case are sort of pointless. The NCAA has likely already been involved, at least in being made aware of what UNC knows. What happens next is either UNC self reports violations and asks for Hairston's reinstatement or the NCAA pushes its own investigation into Hairston. Whatever the case, I am not sure a resolution is forthcoming any time soon.