Leslie McDonald Reinstated; PJ Hairston Still PendingPosted by mpatton on December 18th, 2013
Big news out of Chapel Hill today as Leslie McDonald was reinstated by the NCAA effective immediately, allowing him to play in tonight’s game against Texas. McDonald was suspended for the first nine games of North Carolina‘s season for accepting impermissible benefits, including “the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging,” per the NCAA’s release. He will also be required to donate almost $1,800 to charity.
The strangest part of the story comes in the details of the NCAA’s release. While the general consensus has been that the NCAA has been holding up the decisions of McDonald and PJ Hairston for some unknown reason, it was revealed that North Carolina only submitted a reinstatement request on December 11 (after initially reporting the case in late October). The request was completed yesterday, so there was a very quick turnaround in Indianapolis while the holdup appears to have been in Chapel Hill. Raising even more eyebrows was the final line of the NCAA’s release: “At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina.” That means that it is the school that is still investigating the facts in Hairston’s case, rather than the NCAA. Hairston’s case is certainly more complex than McDonald’s, so it makes sense his case would take longer to sort out.
The news of McDonald’s reinstatement was first reported by Yahoo‘s Rand Getlin. In the report Getlin’s source notes that “Hairston might decide to leave school and declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft.” But what’s unclear is exactly where Hairston stands on all of this. Clearly Roy Williams still has some hope for Hairston’s eventual reinstatement, as the junior guard is still on the team. But North Carolina obviously hasn’t sorted through everything yet, or at least doesn’t feel like nine games is enough of a suspension for his transgresssions.
More importantly at this point, how will McDonald’s presence affect the Tar Heels? At the very least, he should prove a second reliable outside threat. Early on look for him to essentially be a spot-up shooter coming off the bench. Last year he shot 36 percent from behind the arc, a skill that will make him invaluable for the Tar Heels the rest of this season. There’s a chance the fifth-year senior could earn his way back to the starting lineup as well, but Roy Williams’ recent lineups have had plenty of recent success and he likes to sub frequently. The bottom line is that if McDonald is helping the team I’d expect him to see plenty of minutes, but he may spend the rest of his career in Chapel Hill coming off the bench.