The months long story, or should we call it saga, that was the P.J. Hairston debacle is over. The University of North Carolina has announced the junior shooting guard will no longer be a Tar Heel. Hairston’s parents are not pleased by the decision and the fan base seems somewhat divided on how all of this has ended.
There are so many things that have been part of this real life soap opera that maybe we have all forgotten the first thing in it, the primary thing. If Hairston does not make the mistakes he did during the summer none of this would have happened.
Could the time frame for the NCAA to render a decision have been shorter? Of course it could have. But had Hairston not done what he did there would have been no need for the NCAA to be involved.
Could all that has happened beforehand with the football program be factored in when the final assessment was handed down? Maybe, maybe not. But had Hairston not done what he did none of this would have mattered.
And I could go on and on, from the back and forth between the President of the NCAA and Jay Bilas, to the #FREEPJ movement, to any and all things in between. Could some or all have had a touch in the final judgement of this? Perhaps. But once again, had Hairston not made the mistakes he did, none of this other stuff would be significant.
I will also not go for the “all college kids smoke or drive fast”. No, what we should be saying is that NOT all college kids have a chance to don the Carolina blue and be part of the basketball program at Chapel Hill. Hairston is not a typical student, he is not your everyday kid, he is a member of a storied program, he is part of a tiny percentage of student athletes that represent the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is not all “kids”, so that line is absurd to use in this matter. Is he a young man? Sure he is, but he is not like most other young men that go to college.
Am I upset that UNC will not have Hairston the rest of the season? Sure I am, but not because the NCAA and Carolina have decided so, but because someone who carries the flag I follow made mistakes that cost himself, the team, the program and the school a lot in the end.
Will the blaming game go in full throttle now? Of course. From the NCAA to UNC compliance, to anything and everything will get some of it. I am sure that “if this was (insert school here) the NCAA would have not done this to them” will be said over and over… and over again. I am sure that “the school should have done more” will be tossed around for quite sometime. “If this was the SEC Football this would have not happened” will also be said. And all of this might be true. But again, had Hairston not done what he did none would matter.
In the end, neither the NCAA or the UNC compliance office did wrong here, it was P.J. Hairston’s actions that brought all of this about. He will be missed, on the court for his skills, by his team mates, the coaching staff and of course the fan base. But on the other hand, if both he as well as anyone else involved can learn from the mistakes made, down the line this incident might just help everyone a bit.
I believe that this is not the end of P.J. Hairston and basketball. It is just the end of Hairston and UNC hardwoods!