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DeCock: ‘Serious consequences’ still yet to come for Hairston

By Luke DeCock - staff columnist
ldecock@newsobserver.com
Luke has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist in August 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.
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CHAPEL HILL Roy Williams said he has demanded more of P.J. Hairston to regain his spot on the team than any player in his 26 years as a head coach, running him into the ground and revoking his leadership credentials within the team, the North Carolina coach said Thursday.

Still, making Hairston run, not letting him pick where the team has dinner and taking him off the cover of the media guide do not exactly measure up to the “serious consequences” Williams promised earlier this summer in response to Hairston’s string of traffic offenses – two incurred in cars rented by someone else, Hadyn “Fats” Thomas.

Hairston, who was not present at Thursday’s media day, will miss games this season. The question is, how many? Williams spent 10 minutes talking about Hairston on Thursday, but couldn’t answer the most pertinent question.

Williams has to wait for the NCAA, just like everybody else.

“I can’t speak for what the NCAA is doing or not doing,” Williams said. “I know that Roy Williams has a tremendous voice in what else is going to be done.”

Hairston was suspended by the university on July28, but a North Carolina spokesman said the university has not declared Hairston ineligible, which is the first step in the NCAA process. Schools then apply to have the player reinstated, at which point the NCAA determines any sanctions he may face. This is standard procedure for everything from major violations to the most picayune.

If the rental cars are deemed to be an impermissible benefit – and while there’s considerable evidence and precedent, nothing is ever guaranteed with the NCAA – Hairston is likely to miss 8-10 games once North Carolina goes through the process.

Until that routine chain of events is set in motion, it’s impossible at this point for Williams or anyone else to say how many games Hairston might miss. “I should say game or games,” Williams said, enjoying the semantic dance of it, although he’s technically correct, since the NCAA enforcement process has become so inscrutable, it’s impossible to be sure.

Now, should Williams choose to extend Hairston’s UNC-imposed suspension a game or two beyond whatever the NCAA decides, that would certainly be a commendable recognition of the gravity of Hairston’s offenses, which were significant not in their commission but their repetition. Williams would have a far bigger decision to make should the NCAA decide that Hairston didn’t commit any violations, however unlikely that may seem.

“When I have all the information, when everybody’s added whatever they think needs to be added to the information, then I’ll make my decision,” Williams said.

Both Hairston and Williams will have to wait for that process to run its course. Only then will the coach have his final say. Hairston will join the team for its first practice Friday and await his fate.

Hairston may not have enjoyed all the running or the reduction to his role on his team, but the serious consequences – and Williams’ biggest decisions – are still yet to come.

DeCock: ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947
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