What kind of punishment is PJ Hairston looking at?

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We all know the story of PJ Hairston and the rental cars by now.

The answer that everyone is looking for has less to do with what happened in the past and more to do with what is going to happen in the future: how long is Hairston going to have to sit out next season?

He’s been cleared of all charges stemming from getting pulled over driving without a license on June 5th, meaning that there will be no legal ramifications for the drugs and the guns that were found outside the vehicle. But that doesn’t mean that Roy Williams won’t take that chance to punish Hairston; just because he’s innocent in the eyes of the court doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll get a free pass from his coach.

But in that case, we’re probably only talking a couple of games.

The bigger issue is how the NCAA is going to view the fact that Hairston was riding around in a car that was paid for by someone else, namely convicted felon Haydn ‘Fats’ Thomas.

Andrew Carter of the Raleigh News & Observer did some digging here:

“Assuming (Fats) Thomas is not classified as an agent … Hairston is looking at repaying the value of his use of the rental car, and possibly a suspension up to 10 games or so depending on how many days he used the car,” [John] Infante [of the Bylaw Blog] wrote in an email. “This is also assuming that is the extent of the benefits he received.”

[…]

Including taxes, fees and a $165 towing charge, the daily rental rate of the Yukon was $420. The daily rate for the Camaro came to nearly $80. Combined, the charges for the cars came to more than $500 for the two days Hairston drove them.

$501-$700 of impermissible benefits will get you a three game suspension. The sliding scale increases as more money is involved, and we don’t know just what the NCAA will be able to dig up regarding Hairston’s use of rental cars or if there were other impermissible benefits.

The bigger issue, however, will be if the NCAA can somehow determine that the money came from an agent. Remember this? The NCAA has already been looking into a connection between Hairston and Rodney Blackstock, the agent that caused all that ruckus with Ben McLemore.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.