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UNC: Resolution for Hairston By Week's End

Grant Halverson

UNC associate athletic director for communication Steve Kirschner addressed P.J. Hairston's status at the start of Roy Williams' postgame press conference with this statement from AD Bubba Cunningham.

The University of North Carolina with working with P.J. [Hairston] and his family to settle a few unresolved issues that remain. We expect to have this matter resolved by the end of the week

What does that mean? At first blush it doesn't sound good. As noted in the NCAA press release on Leslie McDonald, no reinstatement request for Hairston has been made yet. There are any number of reasons that could be the case. One is that it is similar to Marvin Austin's situation. Austin had such excessive benefits that UNC didn't even bother with a reinstatement request because it was going to fail. That could be the case here given what is known about McDonald's benefits and assuming Hairston's were more egregious in nature.

Another possibility is it is indeed as the statement says. UNC and Hairston's family have some issues to resolve before a reinstatement request can be sent to the NCAA. It is unclear what those issues might be. Certainly Hairston paying back the improper benefits is an issue that needs to be discussed or there might be additional information UNC needs from them. Related to that, UNC may still be working out details before doing the request to ensure all the proverbial ducks are in a row.

The more pessimistic take here is UNC is telling the family that Hairston's career is over or the school is unable to do anything else. Since UNC hasn't had the NCAA render a final decision, there could still be some wiggle room for a personal lawyer to take up the case like Bob Orr did for Devon Ramsay after he was permanently banned by the NCAA. In Ramsay's case, Orr stopped Ramsay from having his case appealed because doing so would have meant admitting he did something wrong. Instead Orr offered new information that ultimately exonerated Ramsay. Depending on the details of the case, it's possible private legal counsel might be able to accomplish something UNC simply cannot as an NCAA member.

All that being said, the biggest red flag that this might not end well is the declaration of a definitive resolution by the end of the week. That seems too short of time to get a reinstatement request done with the NCAA unless such a request is simply a formality. Even then, the NCAA's penchant for unpredictability would preclude UNC from setting a hard date for resolution. The definitive date makes it sounds like a decision has been made and since no reinstatement request has occurred, it doesn't take much to guess what that decision probably is.

Whatever the case, it would appear there is a light at the end of this tunnel...maybe.