The relationship between UNC's P.J. Hairston
and Fats Thomas is still in question. (Gerry Broome/AP)
An important link emerged in the ongoing P.J. Hairston saga over the weekend from a USA Today report involving Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a convicted felon who claimed to lease out a 2013 GMC Yukon to Miykael Faulcon. Faulcon was one of the two passengers P.J. Hairston was carrying on June 5 when he, Faulcon and Carlos Sanford were stopped at a license checkpoint by Durham police and charged with marijuana possession. (Hairston was also cited for driving without a license. No charges have been dispensed related to the 9mm handgun and ammunition found at the scene.)
A second vehicle rented by Catinia Farrington, who reports connected to Thomas’ home address, was being driven by Hairston on May 13 when he received a speeding ticket. That Hairston was cited driving two vehicles one month apart, both rented by Thomas, raises the question of whether Thomas and Hairston know each other.
Any potential ties between Thomas and Hairston were flatly denied by the former, who told the Raleigh News & Observer last week he did not know Hairston. Thomas has admitted to promoting and attending parties with previous UNC players, but denied ever providing any impermissible benefits. The only relationship Thomas has been open about is the one he (allegedly) shares with Faulcon, whom Thomas has said he met at parties.
Tuesday’s update casts doubt over the veracity of Thomas and Faulcon's alleged relationship. USA Today asked Faulcon’s mom about Thomas, and her answer didn’t validate Thomas' assertions.
"I don't know why he says he has a relationship with my son," Ransom said. "I won't comment about P.J. Hairston. I will let this play out in court and I hope the innocent will remain innocent."
The denial from Faulcon’s mom throws Thomas’ leasing of the GMC Yukon to Faulcon, as well as Thomas’ refusal to acknowledge a relationship between Hairston and himself, into question. When asked why Faulcon was in the vehicle with Hairston at his June arrest, Faulcon's mom said her son was a "friend of P.J. Hairston," but made no connection between him and Thomas.
Also, according to rental receipts obtained by USA Today, nine parking citations on UNC’s campus totaling $315 were issued to four vehicles leased to either Thomas or Farrington between Feb. 22 and May 28 from the Hertz location at the Durham airport. One of those vehicles, a 2012 Camaro SS, was under Hairston's control when he was pulled over for speeding on May 13. The 2013 GMC Yukon Hairston used to drive Faulcon and Sanford before being arrested was rented out by Thomas on June 2 and returned three days later, according to USA Today. In sum, Thomas and Farrington spent roughly $15,000 on rental fees from the Durham Hertz location between Feb. 14 and June 25.
Though North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams has refused on multiple occasions to talk about the growing number of allegations surrounding Hairston, athletic director Bubba Cunningham addressed the situation Wednesday in an official statement without mentioning the rising junior guard specifically.
"The athletic department compliance staff and I are fully aware of recent media accounts related to our men's basketball team. We take these matters very seriously and are looking into these reports and the inferences they contain with all due diligence. It is my practice not to comment on the individuals involved or the details surrounding these reports until we have sufficient understanding of the facts involved. We are still gathering information, learning information from other sources, and we will not comment until we have a strong grasp of each individual situation. Where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions, Coach (Roy) Williams will take and I will support the appropriate disciplinary measures.
"The integrity of the University of North Carolina is of paramount concern to all of us and is the principle on which Coach Williams and the athletic department operate each and every day. The most responsible course of action, however, is to withhold judgment and comment until we are confident we have the facts to do so. I appreciate everyone's understanding of that and we will bring these matters to resolution as soon as possible."
It is easy to jump to conclusions in a situation that continues to grow bleaker by the day, and new twists invite questions about Hairston’s ability to play out his junior season in full. But the most important thing to remember, even as Hairston's future at UNC grows drearier, is that the case has not run its full course. And based on the rate at which new developments are dripping out, it could be a while before anything is resolved.