Alfred Anderson | Staff Writer
Just months before the start of the 2013-2014 college basketball season, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suspended junior P.J. Hairston, its leading scorer after multiple misconduct violations. On Dec. 20, the university announced that it would not seek reinstatement from the NCAA for Hairston, ultimately ending his career as a Tarheel, driving the nail in the coffin of the #FreePJ movement.
This decision came after Hairston was cited for violations on three separate occasions. On May 13, he was cited for speeding in a rented 2012 Camaro linked to a convicted felon with ties to a number of local collegiate athletes. On June 5, Hairston was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license, also driving a rented car with links to the same felon. On July 28, Hairston was pulled over for driving 93 mph in 65 mph zone. Following the third violation, Hairston was suspended from the UNC basketball team indefinitely.
Throughout the fall semester, NCAA investigations loomed large to determine whether or not Hairston’s acquisition of rental cars served as improper benefits. Thus, Hairston remained suspended and did not play in the Tarheels’ season opener. During the team’s 7-3 run, the #FreePJ movement started by Hairston supporters made headlines. A photo went viral of a billboard located along I-85 in Durham that displayed the slogan #FreePJ. Former Tarheel and current player for the Milwaukee Bucks John Henson took to Instagram to show his support, posting a picture of himself wearing a shirt with the NCAA logo on the front, replaced with the word “SCAM.” North Carolina fans were also seen invading a game hosted by rival Duke against Gardner-Webb with hand made signs that read “Free P.J.”
It has since been learned that, as a result of this decision, Hairston has decided to take online classes at UNC, submitting paper work to play in the NBA’s developmental league leading up to the draft this June. “I am excited to continue to purse my degree at UNC while also pursuing my dream of becoming a professional basketball player,” said Hairston.
Although, his days at UNC are done, his future remains bright. Many of those in the NBA believe that Hairston could play his way into getting selected in the first round of the draft, if he has a strong showing in the developmental league. However, only time will tell if he has learned from his mistakes and is able to take full advantage of future opportunities.