P.J. Hairston (Getty Images)
Roy Williams broke his silence Monday afternoon about the P.J. Hairston controversy, acknowledging the junior guard's actions have been "embarrassing" to the North Carolina program and promising there will be "serious consequences."
Williams will not penalize Hairston until North Carolina has fully investigated all of the accusations against him, but the coach did acknowledge a suspension is one of "several options in terms of discipline."
Hairston was arrested June 5 in Durham, N.C., when police pulled him over at a traffic checkpoint and found a half-ounce of marijuana inside his vehicle and a 9mm handgun and nine rounds of ammunition outside it. The arrest sparked curiosity into who rented the 2013 GMC Yukon Hairston was driving, a mystery USA Today solved by revealing the vehicle was rented by convicted felon Haydn "Fats" Thomas. Hairston also received a speeding ticket in May driving another rental car registered to a woman who has the same address as Thomas.
"P.J. and I have had several discussions already and he knows he has made serious mistakes and there will be serious consequences as a result," Williams said in his statement. "Certainly the idea of suspending P.J. has been discussed. However, he is not currently enrolled in summer school, is not practicing with the team and we have no games until November. There are several options available in terms of discipline, but we are going to wait until the process is complete to decide on those options.
"Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply. Our basketball program is based on great ideals, and these issues are embarrassing. These are not common in my 10 years as head coach at UNC, and they will all be dealt with harshly and appropriately at the correct time to ensure that our program will not be compromised."
Even though the statement from Williams doesn't stray from his previous position of not acting until more is known, the tone represents a monumental shift. This time Williams acknowledges Hairston made mistakes and will have to face serious penalties.
Why the sudden shift in tone just days after the bland statement athletic director Bubba Cunningham released Thursday merely acknowledging North Carolina was aware of the situation?
Maybe Williams was tired of being bombarded with questions from reporters while on the July recruiting circuit. Or perhaps he wanted to alert the NCAA that North Carolina is willing to punish Hairston severely to avoid further discipline stemming from potential extra benefits violations surrounding the rental cars.
Regardless, the statement is the strongest sign yet Hairston will not be in uniform for North Carolina when it begins the 2013-14 season, a potentially huge blow to a Tar Heels program with Final Four aspirations.
Hairston averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game as a sophomore, sparking North Carolina's late-season surge when he moved into the starting lineup midway through ACC play. He averaged 18.2 points during the Tar Heels' final 13 games, playing so well that he briefly considered entering the NBAdraft this spring before announcing in mid-April that he'd return to school for his junior season.
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