Hairston told police about rental car links to 'Fats' Thomas

Jul. 12, 2013 @ 10:15 PM

North Carolina basketball star P.J. Hairston told police that the rental car he was driving when he was arrested last month was given to him by Haydn “Fats” Thomas, according to a detailed police report of the incident.

The rising junior guard, who led the team in scoring last season, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and driving without a license at a traffic stop in Durham on June 5.

The report was first obtained by the The News & Observer of Raleigh.

It has not been released because the case is still ongoing.

While the admission shouldn’t have any effect on Hairston’s legal risk, it could put his NCAA eligibility in jeopardy.

Athletes are not allowed to accept benefits that aren’t available to the general student body unless they come from a pre-existing relationship recognized by the NCAA, such as a family member or a lifelong friend

Otherwise, players are expected to repay the value of the benefit and sit out a portion of the season.

If the value of the benefit(s) received is found to be unacceptably large, or if Thomas is linked to an agent or found to be a UNC booster, Hairston could lose his eligibility entirely.

In a previous case involving UNC’s football team, the NCAA ruled Greg Little and Robert Quinn permanently ineligible and Marvin Austin was dismissed from the team after receiving thousands of dollars in improper benefits. Kendric Burney missed half of the 2010 season after receiving $1,333 in benefits from someone who qualified as an agent, while Deunta Williams missed a third of the season after receiving $1,426 in benefits.

Thomas, 39, rented the 2013 Yukon SUV that Hairston was driving from June 2-5 and at a cost of $1,261.64. According to the report, Hairston said Thomas rented the vehicle so Hairston could drive to Atlanta.

The SUV was the second car Hairston was driving that has been connected to Thomas, who has been convicted of multiple felonies and was charged in December with possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a firearm by a convicted felon.

Hairston was stopped for speeding in May while driving a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro that was rented by Catinia Farrington, who shares Thomas’s Durham address. Farrington rented the car from April 25 to June 17 and was charged $3,249, while Thomas had previously rented the car from March 25 to April 15 and was charged about $2,500.

USA Today first published the rental records.

Four cars rented by Thomas or Farrington received a combined nine tickets for parking illegally on UNC’s campus over the past six months, including two tickets tied to the Camaro.

According to the report, Hairston also told police that he was a “recreational” user of marijuana who last used the drug two weeks before his arrest, and he had tried switching places with passenger Miykael Faulcon before reaching the stop after he realized he didn’t have his license.

Both UNC and Elizabeth City State, where Faulcon is a rising sophomore on the basketball team, have said they are still gathering information before commenting on the status of their players.

In the school’s lone statement since Hairston’s arrest, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said Wednesday that, “where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions, Coach (Roy) Williams will take and I will support the appropriate disciplinary measures.”

Prior to his arrest, Hairston was already under investigation by the school for potential ties to Rodney Blackstock, a fellow Greensboro native who was accused of giving $10,000 to Ben McLemore’s AAU coach in hopes of representing the future NBA lottery pick.

Hairston, Faulcon and the third passenger, Durham resident Carlos Sanford, were all charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and are scheduled to be in Durham County Court on Aug. 6.