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Second Rental Car Linked to P.J. Hairston

Alternate headline: Hey, Who's Excited About J.P. Tokoto Starting at Small Forward?

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Ed Zurga

By way of background, prior to P.J. Hairston's unfortunate meeting with the Durham Police at a checkpoint, he was cited for speeding on May 13th, presumably with his license this time. Eric Prisbell of USA Today is reporting that run-in with the law also included Hairston driving a rental car.

Hairston was cited for speeding while driving a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS with Virginia license plates, a Durham County District Court clerk said. The Camaro was paid for by a woman named Catinia Farrington, whose Durham address matches that of Thomas, according to the Hertz receipt obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

The license plates on the Camaro that Hairston was driving match the ones on the rental receipt for Farrington, as does the make and model of the vehicle. And the address Farrington lists on the rental receipt matches the address Thomas lists on his voter registration.

If you are keeping score at home, that is twice Hairston has been cited by police while driving an expensive rental car. In both cases those rentals are traced back to Haydn "Fats" Thomas of Durham, a man who earlier in the week claimed he didn't know Hairston or even like Carolina basketball. At the time no one really believed him and the latest news item explains why that was the case.

While there is still much we don't know about Hairston's situation and how the NCAA might respond to it, the latest news does not portend a favorable future in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heel junior. The newly revealed rental of the Camaro means no one is going to believe Thomas when he says he didn't rent the Yukon for Hairston. And even if Hairston is off the hook for the Yukon, him being ticketed driving the Camaro is likely enough for the NCAA to take action. There is also the fact these two rentals are known because Hairston was cited by the police and made the vehicles in question part of the public record. The possibility of there being other rentals certainly exists and the NCAA would explore that angle.

UNC told Durham Herald Sun reporter Harold Gutmann that they were aware of the latest developments and "looking into it." It is not clear if UNC already knew about this newest item prior to it coming out or if they are getting it now just like everyone else. One would assume the speeding ticket would have been known to UNC or at least had been brought up when the arrest in Durham occurred. It is also reasonable to assume any business involving cars would draw some attention from compliance. At least that is how it should work given cars are often involved in NCAA cases.

Regardless of when UNC found out, the path going forward is fairly clear. If the NCAA is to be involved, UNC has to ensure this starts and ends with Hairston. There is some tangential connection between Leslie McDonald and Hayden Thomas related to a cell phone. That obviously could end up being something but right now the primary issue is Hairston. UNC will need to investigate the matter then alert the NCAA to what they find. Chances are UNC then self-reports any violations, declares Hairston ineligible and then asks the NCAA to reinstate him. At that point the NCAA looks into the matter then makes a decision. During UNC's football scandal, various player penalties were decided based on the size of the improper benefit and whether they lied or not when questioned. As Prisbell points out, the rental of the Camaro cost over $3000 for 54 days. The Yukon was over $1200 for less than a week. If it turns out Hairston is on the hook for those dollar amounts then he's probably looking at permanent ineligibility.

That is if it gets that far. There is not much data on how Roy Williams deals with cases of this nature. The apparent plan now is to stay quiet and await all available information before saying anything. While there is some clamoring out there for Williams to address the issue, he has the luxury of time. Unlike during the football scandal where Butch Davis had to speak with the media regularly, Williams doesn't right now. At some point UNC has to address Hairston's status but for all we know that might not happen until some sort of final decision has been made by Williams, the NCAA or both.