UNC AD Cunningham: P.J. Hairston will play for Heels this season

Aug. 15, 2013 @ 05:48 PM

P.J. Hairston will play basketball for North Carolina this season. Now the question is when he will begin.

Speaking at a retreat for the school’s journalism faculty Thursday, athletic director Bubba Cunningham was asked if Hairston would play this season.

“Yes, but not all the games,” Cunningham responded.

Cunningham confirmed the exchange. It was first publicized on Twitter by professor Andy Bechtel, who attended the luncheon.

UNC coach Roy Williams announced on July 28 that Hairston was suspended “indefinitely” following his third traffic citation of the offseason. Cunningham’s statement was the first public acknowledgement that Hairston will be back on the court in 2013-14.

Hairston was stopped for speeding in May and then arrested for possession of marijuana and driving without a license in June – charges that were later dropped when the 20-year-old completed a drug assessment and provided a current license.

Both times, Hairston was driving rental cars linked to Durham felon Haydn “Fats” Thomas, who is still facing additional drug and gun charges.

In July, Williams issued a statement that Hairston would “serious consequences” for “serious mistakes.” Two weeks later, the Greensboro native was charged with reckless driving after going 93 mph in a 65-mph zone on I-85 in Rowan County.

On top of whatever punishment Williams has planned, the NCAA may also choose to suspend Hairston for the first part of the season for driving rental cars connected to Thomas, which could be considered an illegal benefit.

Neither Williams nor Cunningham have spoken publicly about Hairston’s status since his arrest. Nevertheless, Williams told reporters Wednesday that he was already “tired” of talking about the junior guard, who led the Tar Heels in scoring last season.

UNC’s schedule hasn’t been released yet, but the Tar Heels could have three big non-conference games in the first month — a potential Nov. 24 matchup with defending champion Louisville in the 2013 Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, a Dec. 4 ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Michigan State and a Dec. 14 home game against potential No. 1 Kentucky.