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Thursday, August 15, 2013
Williams can end the Hairston chatter

By Myron Medcalf

It’s so easy to blame the media for magnifying controversy.

It’s a typical out for some powerbrokers. When their frustration grows, many vent and seek a scapegoat.

On Wednesday, it happened again when Roy Williams expressed his frustration with the ongoing coverage and conversation surrounding the status of top scorer P.J. Hairston. In recent months, the standout has been cited for reckless driving, booked on charges for drugs and driving without a license in a vehicle that was positioned next to a gun (charges were eventually dropped), tied to a felon who rented the car and tagged for speeding multiple times:
North Carolina coach Roy Williams says he's "tired" of talking about suspended guard P.J. Hairston.

Williams spoke briefly to reporters after his round at the Wednesday pro-am at the Wyndham Championship.

When asked about Hairston's situation, he said he's "tired of reading about it, tired of talking about it" and declined to discuss it further.

Williams suspended Hairston from the team July 28 after receiving his third traffic citation of the summer.

Well, he’s in good company. Some of us are tired of asking him about it.

And it would be easy to end the chatter about one of North Carolina’s NBA prospects if we just had some definitive information.

See, when Hairston was arrested in June -- weeks before he was stopped for driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone -- Williams promised “serious consequences”:
"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.

He said there are "several options available" as punishment, including a possible suspension. Hairston faces an August court hearing and isn't enrolled in summer school. The team is in the offseason so Williams says he will wait "until the process is complete" to decide on the punishment.

But before Williams reached a decision on Hairston’s punishment, the junior wing was suspended indefinitely following his reckless driving citation.

That was late last month.

And the only thing we know about Hairston is that he’s missed every college basketball game that’s been played in the last two weeks. No idea when he’ll be back next season. Not sure if he’ll miss a significant number of games. No clue if there will be any other consequences.

We haven't heard anything specific from Williams on these matters. But North Carolina journalism professor Andy Bechtel, who attended a faculty retreat attended by Bubba Cunningham on Thursday, tweeted that the school's athletic director expects Hairston to return and miss some games:

Bubba Cunningham takes a PJ question. "Will he play?" Answer: "Yes, but not all the games."

— Andy Bechtel (@andybechtel) August 15, 2013


There are still unknowns even if this is accurate. So we’ll continue to ask about it until Williams announces something final regarding Hairston and his 2013-14 status.

This isn’t a walk-on or the sixth guy off the bench. This is a young man who led one of America’s most prestigious programs in scoring last season.

This is a big deal. His presence or lack thereof next year will have a major impact on Tar Heels basketball.

Williams is “tired of reading” about Hairston, but he hasn’t done enough to eliminate the questions about a crucial player.

Will he miss any meaningful games? How many? Five? Ten? How long does it take to assess something like this?

Just tell us. And then, we’ll stop asking about it.

Until then -- and this really goes for Williams and other coaches who do the same thing -- don’t be surprised by the headlines and dialogue.

We’re just waiting for some answers.