CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina won’t have leading scorer P.J. Hairston and senior Leslie McDonald for the No. 12 Tar Heels’ opener against Oakland on Friday due to NCAA eligibility concerns.
“It’s an ongoing issue, a compliance issue with the university and the NCAA,” team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Thursday. “We’re working together on that, but they’re not playing. Really that’s all we can get into at this point.”
Authorities twice cited Hairston during the offseason while driving a rental vehicle linked to a felon, raising the possibility of an improper benefits violation.
The school hasn’t specified McDonald’s issue, though UNC had to send a letter this summer ordering a company that makes designer mouth guards to stop using McDonald on a website promoting its brand.
McDonald had made at least one social media post last year about wearing one of the company’s mouth guards. NCAA rules generally prohibit athletes from endorsing or promoting a company or product.
Kirschner announced both players’ statuses shortly before coach Roy Williams’ already scheduled news conference in advance of the first game.
Williams said both players have been practicing well, though neither had been on the first team in drills for the past week or so.
“Well, you know, it is frustrating, but it’s also a long process,” Williams said. “We’re trying to do what we can do. The NCAA is trying to do what they can do. But it’s what it is. I’m sure they – they meaning the NCAA – would like to settle all their cases in five minutes, too. We’ve just got to try to continue working with them and working with our student-athletes and do the best job we can do and see what happens.”