UNC announced that Hairston would practice moments before Roy Williams addressed the media for the first time since the spring.
The Greensboro, N.C. native was suspended from the team on July 28th after being charged with speeding and reckless driving. Hairston had also been cited twice over the summer while driving a rental car linked to Haydn “Fats” Thomas.
The initial wave of internal discipline that Hairston’s encountered included 100 33s, which is running the length of the court and back three times in 33 seconds.
“P.J. has done more conditioning this preseason than any player I’ve ever had,” Williams said. “He’s done more than three times more than any player I’ve ever had. He has not asked me the question yet, but I know it’s in his mind – he’s wondering if he’s on a track scholarship. But he’s just done a great job with that.”
Williams deemed the intense conditioning a “very aggressive part of the disciplinary process” and indicated that Hairston ran 18 days more than his teammates while also taking part in UNC’s standard preseason running program.
Hairston has also been stripped of his leadership rights, which include such things as meal choices and practice time preferences, and he will not be on the cover of the 2013-14 media guide.
Williams indicated that other aspects of Hairston’s punishment have yet to be determined, including how many games UNC’s leading scorer will miss.
Williams did confirm that Hairston will play this season and that his suspension will be decided before the season opener on Nov. 8.
“When I have all of the information, when everybody’s added whatever they think needs to be added to the information, then I’ll make the decision,” Williams said.
Williams said he has not personally been in contact with the NCAA and has no idea about any potential conversations taking place between the NCAA and UNC’s compliance department concerning Hairston’s situation.
“I can’t speak for what the NCAA is doing or not doing,” Williams said, “but I know that Roy Williams has a tremendous voice in what else is going to be done.”
As for the conditioning discipline that Hairston has endured, neither Williams nor his players were sure if anyone else could have done the work. Sophomore forward Joel James told reporters he didn’t think anyone else on the roster could have run that much.
“That’s why he’s such a special athlete,” James said. “He can do these things no one else can do and he makes them look easy. He just has a gift and it’s up to him to use that gift in a positive way. The choice is his.”
Various Tar Heels spoke to Hairston’s maturity level in accepting his punishment and effort in working his way back on the team.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto said. “He’s made a few mistakes; it’s not something no one has ever done before. But I feel like some of the stuff that happened was kind of out of his hands and some of it was his choice. Regardless, he’s done a great job of maturing, in my eyes, so I think he’ll be just fine.”
Hairston took the additional step of apologizing to his teammates, according to senior wing Leslie McDonald.
“I can tell you definitely his spirits are up and running,” McDonald said. “He’s a determined young cat. Just seeing him working hard, running the 33’s and going extra hard in workouts, you can tell he’s very determined to be a part of this team.”