North Carolina suspends P.J. Hairston indefinitely after reckless driving citation
So, your head coach is already livid with you. And even though you may have gained a temporary reprieve of sorts when drug possession and driving without a license charges were dropped, you’re still embroiled in a situation where a former felon facing drug charges is renting you cars and has an increasing number of connections to athletes from your school. Oh yeah, and the NCAA is investigating your ties to agents.
So, if you’re P.J. Hairston, what do you do? You get banged for reckless driving after being pulled over for going 93 in a 65-mph zone.
And if you’re North Carolina basketball? You immediately suspend Hairston indefinitely, a decision the school announced Sunday night.
What a mess, and one that could continue to grow considerably as we head toward the season.
Even if at this point Hairston is most guilty of felony stupidity, this has to be remarkably disappointing (and embarrassing) for Roy Williams. After no-commenting on Hairston for a good while, Williams unloaded on his junior wing two weeks ago. At that point, a suspension was being bandied around by the head man. So now what is Williams going to think about a player that, at best, didn’t fully understand the seriousness of his situation and the pending discipline or, at worst, more or less flipped his coach the bird?
North Carolina has a good amount of young talent on the roster next season, but after losing Reggie Bullock to the NBA, the Tar Heels really need Hairston’s productivity on the perimeter. November is still a long way off and Hairston eventually may be able to make amends for this series of brainless gaffes, but as discussed in the link above from two weeks ago, Williams has already backed himself into a bit of a corner when it comes to the discipline here.
A coach with Williams’ resume and job security has the latitude to play this however he wants, and regular season games don’t mean nearly as much in college hoops as in football. But UNC’s schedule will provide some interesting checkpoints for Williams’ appetite for discipline. In the fourth game of the season, the Tar Heels have a very good chance of playing defending champ Louisville, an almost certain top-five team. In game six, they’re at Michigan State, another top-five team and national title contender. In the eighth game, the Heels host Kentucky, which is — you guessed it — another obvious preseason top-five team.
Previously, Williams noted he didn’t have to suspend Hairston for his actions because he wasn’t enrolled in classes this summer session. The fact that he did it anyway Sunday night shows just how ticked off Williams apparently is. Two weeks ago, Williams said Hairston would face “serious consequences” for his actions. Will that include Williams handicapping his team for three major nonconference showdowns? We’ll have to wait and see.