(AP Photo)

UNC AD Cunningham addresses growing PJ Hairston scandal


With the scandal surrounding PJ Hairston, North Carolina’s leading scorer a season ago, growing by the day, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham finally addressed the situation in a statement on Wednesday morning.

“The athletic department compliance staff and I are fully aware of recent media accounts related to our men’s basketball team,” Cunningham said. “We take these matters very seriously and are looking into these reports and the inferences they contain with all due diligence. It is my practice not to comment on the individuals involved or the details surrounding these reports until we have sufficient understanding of the facts involved. We are still gathering information, learning information from other sources, and we will not comment until we have a strong grasp of each individual situation. Where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions, Coach (Roy) Williams will take and I will support the appropriate disciplinary measures.”

Hairston was arrested on June 5th for driving without a license and charged with possession of marijuana. There was also a gun and ammunition found on the ground outside of the car when the arrest was made, but no one has claimed ownership of it and charges have not been brought regarding its possession.

The car that Hairston was driving was a 2013 GMC Yukon that was rented by a convicted felon named Haydn “Fats” Thomas. An investigation by USA Today’s Eric Prisbell has since turned up that Hairston was also pulled over and ticketed for speeding in a 2012 Camaro that was rented by a woman that shares an address with Thomas, and that nine parking tickets have been given to four cars rented by Thomas and his female roommate since February. They pair have spent more than $15,000 on rental cars during that time.

“The integrity of the University of North Carolina is of paramount concern to all of us and is the principle on which Coach Williams and the athletic department operate each and every day,” Cunningham added. “The most responsible course of action, however, is to withhold judgment and comment until we are confident we have the facts to do so. I appreciate everyone’s understanding of that and we will bring these matters to resolution as soon as possible.”

Williams declined to comment to a TV station that caught up with him on the street yesterday.

According to a report from Yahoo’s Pat Forde on Wednesday, the NCAA has not yet begun digging into the relationship between Hairston and Thomas or the rental cars, but they are looking into the relationship between Hairston and an agent named Rodney Blackstock, who was linked to Ben McLemore in a story from Prisbell earlier this spring.

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Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?