What a night in the litany of major rules violations that continue to flow out of the UNC-Chapel Hill basketball program! I don’t know where to begin.
Iceburg Mouthguards & Party Promoting
Carolina damage control in full spin cycle, no doubt trying once again to come out clean on the other side.
Which might very well be why Leslie Vernard McDonald can no longer be found shilling $1500 mouthguards on the interwebz, but don’t worry we still have the pictures.
Accepting the $1,500 mouthguard would also be quite an NCAA violation. But, how could someone ever be able to prove that McDonald accepted such a gift? Oh, wait! Perhaps from McDonald’s own twitter account where (at 12:13am on February 22nd) McDonald thanks local party promoter @brintcitync of ‘KISS Entertainment‘ for his $1,500 mouthguard. Until Leslie tries to cover his tracks by deleting his tweets (as he did with the referenced picture of his mouthguard on Instagram), you can see for yourself below where the Carolina basketball player admits to violation. (Of course, deleting the tweet now would be futile since so many people have taken screen grabs of the admission.)
â€” Leslie McDonald (@Lezz_McDonald2) February 22, 2013
I’d just like to congratulate the UNC compliance office for the fantastic work they continue to do monitoring their athlete’s social media even while on NCAA probation that specifically cited the department for their failure to monitor. If one REALLY cares about compliance, how do you miss so many of these blatant and obvious admissions to breaking NCAA rules?
But, there is more regarding McDonald and the “Wheels for Heels” program directly related to PJ Hairston. The interwebz have a way of remembering stuff you don’t want them to….
^That video is a commercial. That video is a commercial promoting KISS Entertainment. KISS Entertainment. A commercial. That’s an NCAA compliance no no by the way.Â A commercial to promote a product. A promotion kinda like to following screengrab from Iceburg Mouthguards‘ Facebook page:
Is there even a single copy of an NCAA rulebook in Chapel Hill? It isn’t like anyone can claim that couldn’t know what was going on; if only they cared to pay attention. This stuff has all been out there in public view for months. Just take a look at the following screengrab of Twitter interaction between what appears to be a local dentist highlighting Leslie McDonald’s promotion of Iceburg Mouthguards with Tar Heel Monthly! That is also Tar Heel Monthly’s Adam Lucas inquiring into how he could get a mouthguard for his boy based on McDonald’s wearing of the product in the previous night’s game. I can’t wait for any version of the story that is not an admission that the gifting the $1,500 mouthguard to McDonald was not for the purpose of promoting the product.
The entire circle of impermissible benefits is starting to connect. Certainly thereâ€™s a difference between tangible proof and the practically obvious transgressions, but this absolutely should be enough for the NCAA to initiate their burden-on-the-school-to-prove-compliance investigation. Not to mention, unless UNC can produce a receipt as proof that the university paid for McDonaldâ€™s and Hairstonâ€™s $1500 custom mouthpieces, thatâ€™s another $3000 (at a minimum) in impermissible benefits even without the fact that McDonald illegally promoted the product while allegedly an amateur. Could you imagine how the rest of the players on the team would feel if they didn’t receive an equal benefit of $1,500 from the program? Or, perhaps some non-basketball players also received $1,500 benefits from Iceburg Mouthguards — so, it obviously isn’t an NCAA violation!
Wheels for Heels
The last point that shouldn’t escape the masses from this story is that the guys with monetary interest in Iceberg Mouthguards have also been connected in numerous ways to Fats Thomas via Twitter and Facebook. You know, the same Fats Thomas whose rental cars have a way of ending up PJ Hairston‘s driveway. With that said, check out the following tweets from one of PJ Hairston’s boyz discussing the 2012 Mercedes Benz that Hairston brought to his house on December 30th.
We previously made this point, but it worth repeating — this ‘car prong’ of NCAA violations should be no surprise to anyone. ‘Weird’ situations have revolved around cars driven by athletes in the UNC Basketball program for decades. It has been a secret to nobody. Hell, it has been so accepted by UNC students that I once had a very smart friend tell me that “It must be ‘legal’. They can’t be breaking any NCAA rules because everyone knows about it and they would’ve gotten into trouble by now”. Riiiiight.
It became public knowledge TWO YEARS AGO that a single UNC basketball and football player received 93 parking tickets on FIVE DIFFERENT cars that had used NINE DIFFERENT license plates!? Nobody seemed to care that those tickets were paid by a woman who was on the personal payroll of the Head Football Coach. Money is fungible. How was it not an interest to the NCAA and the UNC system that that flow of thousands of dollars from the HEAD COACH ended up providing thousands of dollars monetary benefits to his players? And, clearly nobody cared to investigate how/why a single athlete could drive at least five different cars. (Remember, those are only the cars that got tickets.)
You should also check out this link from two years ago for even more review. You will see an awful lot about UNC Basketball star, John Henson’s car and ticketing issues in Chapel Hill. That is the same John Henson who shows up in tons of pictures and social interactions on FaceBook and Twitter with — you guessed it — Fats Thomas.
Think about it — the NCAA, the media, UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC Board of Governors ALL chose to ignore the obvious questions about these vehicles when provided the opportunity to investigate two years ago. Why wouldn’t the UNC athletes continue to participate in the exact same practices that have never brought one ounce of trouble with them in the past?
Meanwhile, over in Orange County, UNC athletic director takes cautious approach regarding P.J. Hairston situation (Yahoo.com)
“The athletic department compliance staff and I are fully aware of recent media accounts related to our men’s basketball team,” Cunningham said. “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.”
Uh huh.Â So we can all rest easier now.Â Bubba is on the case.
And since past indiscretions have been dealt with in such an upstanding way, of course there should be no doubts about the impeccability of “due diligence” in this case huh?
Speaking of past indiscretions, here’s more from the Forde article…
Sources with knowledge of the situation say the NCAA has not yet contacted North Carolina to begin investigating Hairston’s ties to the rental cars or Thomas, but they expect it to happen in the near future. UNC has looked into possible ties between Thomas and an agent who may be funneling impermissible benefits to Hairston, but sources say none has been discovered yet.
Â UNC currently is on probation for wide-ranging major violations in football, including impermissible benefits from agents to players. The football program was given a postseason ban and other serious sanctions, and the scandal led to the firing of football coach Butch Davis, the retirement of athletic director Dick Baddour and ultimately played a role in the resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp.
In addition, the school has been rocked by an academic scandal that centered around bogus classes in the African-American Studies Department. A significant number of athletes â€“ including many football and men’s basketball players â€“ were enrolled in the classes. However, the NCAA has said the no-show classes were a university-wide issue and not specific to athletics, because regular students also took the bogus classes.
With that as context, the timing of a potential legal and NCAA issue involving the leading scorer on the 2012-13 Tar Heels basketball team is hardly ideal.
Â When [Haydn “Fats”] Thomas’ identity was made public as the renter of the Yukon that Hairston was driving, he initially denied knowing Hairston or having any connection to UNC athletes. After a string of social-media connections between Thomas and Tar Heels players was established, he backtracked on that denial but insisted his interaction with them was because of his work as a party promoter.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams refused comment Tuesday when stopped on the street by a local television station. Williams will have to repeat that comment often in the days to come, as he heads out on the July recruiting circuit this week.
Itâ€™s the NCAAâ€™s move at this point. Either they are what they claim to be or they arenâ€™t.