Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tarnished Heels -- Conclusion and Author's Note

After nearly four years of scandals there ultimately are very few definitive answers.  Not because of a lack of evidence, but rather due to an obstinate lack of cooperation and openness by UNC.  The university has held on tooth and nail to an ideal, all while trying to protect an image of past glories.  As a result, the public has slowly formed a jaded view of an institution that had once appeared to have some leaders of virtue.  What is left is a series of “what if” questions, the answers to which would likely have put an end to the scandal – one way or another – long beforehand.  Those answers would have also allowed a process of healing to begin, as well as shown that the university valued character.
-- What if all of the emails and phone records of Julius Nyang’oro had been released and thoroughly dissected to determine the original birthplace of the AFAM scandal?
-- What if the list of basketball and football players whose grades were changed had been released, and the effects of those grades on their GPA (and eligibility) were clearly outlined?
-- Along those lines, what if the transcripts of former athletes had been closely inspected to see if academic fraud (from no matter what academic department) had indeed kept them eligible to participate?
-- What if the hiring practices of those closely tied to athletics were more closely and honestly examined, as well as the connections between UNC alumni and people providing impermissible benefits to athletes?
-- What if more members of the university’s faculty had spoken up in defense of the school’s academic reputation, and against the protection that was continually offered to the major revenue sports teams?
-- What if the students and alumni who had earned honest degrees had spoken up in outrage for the same reason – the defense of the school’s academic, as opposed to athletic, reputation?
-- What if Chancellor Holden Thorp had refused the suggestions of the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors and decided against hiring a myriad of lawyers and public relations experts, and instead offered full transparency into the university’s darkest corners of the past? 
-- Along those lines, what if the school had not delayed and/or refused countless Freedom of Information Act requests from the media?
-- Essentially, what if those associated with the school had truly practiced what they professed to be the “Carolina Way,” and chosen to come clean and start the healing process much sooner?
            Sadly, the answer to the majority of those questions has become painfully obvious as each month and year has passed.  Data and information strongly suggests that many players would have been retroactively ineligible, wins would have been vacated, and yes – those national championship banners which constituted so much of the school’s national image and pride would have been null and void.  Despite NCAA president Mark Emmert having said that universities must eradicate the “sports are king” mindset when he handed down Penn State’s punishment in 2012, his bold sentiment has still not spread to encompass the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
* * *
             A quote used by some parents who strive to be solid role models goes as follows:  “Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.”  That statement is attributed to David Bly, a Minnesota politician and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, as well as a former teacher.  They are strong words to live by, especially for adults who truly believe in positive modeling for the young.  The words also provide an interesting case study for factions within UNC.
            If past and present players, coaches, students, professors, staff members, administrators, and any others claiming to be associated with Chapel Hill had any desire to set an example for those who might look up to them, yet took a hard look at their own actions and true motives, what would they see?  Would they see people they would want their children to become?  Hundreds, if not thousands, have chosen to remain silent in the face of overwhelming evidence of athletic/academic fraud, all apparently in order to protect an image and brand name.  Along the same lines, what would the adults associated with the NCAA see?  Based on past collegiate cases of impropriety, they have picked and chosen when to enforce their standards with favoritism apparently a guiding principle.  Despite what Mark Emmert had proclaimed in the past, the NCAA had still allowed sports to be king in Chapel Hill.
            The stark reality, however, is that it should have never been necessary to expect and require the NCAA to police and punish the activities that had taken place at UNC.  If the “Carolina Way” truly stood for all of the honorable platitudes that the school, its workers, and its graduates would have the rest of the world believe, then adults would have stood up, admitted what had transpired in the past, and done the right thing.  Because that was, after all, what the “Carolina Way” was supposed to mean. 
            The athletic/academic scandals within the halls of the campus buildings in Chapel Hill had long been the proverbial elephant in the room.  Unfortunately, athletic glory had been shown to be countless times more valuable than integrity.  From a center of higher learning, that is a sad testament not only to our society, but also to the morals and values of the adults associated with that school – adults whose charge was to set a solid example and foundation for the young.  A degradation of morals and character had stepped to the forefront over the past few years, and is what the leadership of the university appears to now stand for and accept as right. 

No matter what new information comes out, and whether the NCAA ever takes the correct action and fully investigates the fraud or not, the charade of morality will be over unless those adult factions actually own up to the errors of the past.  The honor and integrity of doing things “the right way” have sadly been overtaken by pride and poor judgment.  Until a true will to change is shown from the school itself, it will be negative traits that will define the university going forward.  Until that honest repentance happens, the “Carolina Way” will remain a remnant of the past.
* * *

When gathering data, researching articles and information, and then actually writing this book, a number of disturbing issues stood out.  Most of them were likely obvious from the narrative: the lack of those in positions of leadership to tackle a blatant problem head-on; cheating done for some sort of institutional, personal, and/or financial gain; and so forth.  By the end of the book, however, the aspect that was perhaps the most frustrating dealt with the abuse of our education system.  Education has been such a hot topic for years -- not just at select colleges and universities, but nationwide and on all levels from kindergarten on up.  Teachers in primary and secondary schools remain underpaid and underappreciated, yet are held to high (and ever-changing) testing standards, most of which are widely criticized as being largely without merit when it comes to properly preparing our youth for adulthood and careers.  That is, of course, a topic for an entirely different book.  But what has been shown throughout this account at UNC is an utter lack of respect for the education process.  The fraud, cheating, and cover-ups have essentially created a trickle-down effect from the university, to the students, to the public education system (high school on down), to the teachers who are trying diligently to prepare their students despite many obstacles, and even to parents who have questions and frustrations about their children's education and future well-being.  In essence, not only were morals and values compromised at the University of North Carolina, but so too was the supposed purpose and mission of an institute of higher learning: to teach students.  The result of the UNC scandal is one that reflects an overall de-emphasis on the value of an education in our country and, as a parent, that is truly troubling and sad.

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-Three
National media attention; the cost of a scandal

            The different athletic/academic scandals at UNC had caused small national ripples at times over the previous three years, but never had any truly moved to the forefront of the national media.  That finally showed signs of changing, however.  The New York Times published an article on the scandal that appeared online late on December 31, 2013, and then in print on New Year’s Day.  BusinessWeek followed with a series of articles that began on January 2.  There was an in-depth CNN report by Sara Ganim on January 7.  Incidentally, Ganim was the reporter who had uncovered many key details during the early stages of the Penn State case involving Jerry Sandusky.  The New York Post contributed a piece on January 11, and then a crippling episode of ESPN’s investigative show “Outside the Lines” aired on January 14, 2014, blatantly calling out UNC for the apparent fraud that benefitted athletes, and the NCAA for refusing to take any action.
            The implications of so much attention from national media sources meant that it might be extremely difficult for the NCAA to ignore the issues going forward.  Why that had even transpired for so long was truly a mystery, especially when considering past similar cases.  Several years earlier the NCAA had ruled that Florida State had been guilty of major violations in a widespread academic fraud case from 2006 and 2007.  An online music class was apparently taught irregularly, a former learning specialist had typed portions of papers for three student-athletes, and answers were provided to an athlete for an online psychology course.  The case involved 61 athletes, all of whose individual records were eventually expunged.  Furthermore, a total of 12 wins by the school’s football team were retroactively erased by the NCAA for the use of ineligible players.  The number of classes and affected student-athletes in FSU’s case paled in comparison to the AFAM fraud at UNC.
            At the University of Georgia in 2003 a former player – Tony Cole – claimed that an assistant coach had paid some of his bills, done schoolwork for him, and taught a sham class on coaching.  Cole said he never attended the class, but along with two other basketball players received an A.  That seemed extremely similar to the AFAM scandal, except for the fact that it was only one class and three student-athletes at Georgia – compared to hundreds of courses and student-athletes at UNC.  The Georgia basketball program self-banned itself from the 2003 postseason, but then the NCAA added further penalties:  the loss of future scholarships, the vacating of numerous wins over a three-year period, and the expunging of players’ records.
            A scandal surfaced at the University of Minnesota in early 1999.  A former basketball office manager said she had written papers for at least 20 men’s basketball players over a period of several years.  Two days after the story first ran, the NCAA suspended four current players.  Following a full investigation a number of violations were uncovered, and the school was ultimately stripped of all postseason awards, titles, personal records, and statistics dating back to the 1993-94 season.  Later, the Big Ten conference vacated the school’s 1997 conference title, and the school also returned 90% of the profits earned by the team during various appearances in the NCAA tournament.  There were stark similarities between Minnesota’s and UNC’s cases.  But once again, the situation in Chapel Hill appeared to dwarf what had happened at the other school.  If the same scrutiny were given to UNC as to Minnesota (a full-fledged, external investigation), the vacated results and titles would be much greater.
* * *
            Often over the past several years fans of UNC had complained that the media and other factions were “out to get” the school, and were determined to have the basketball national championship banners removed.  What those individuals likely did not realize was that the basketball team was a massive part of the school’s image, and people often associated the success of those year-to-year teams with their overall perception of the university.  In essence, when the team did well, in various areas the school also did well.  For example, a March 19, 2009, article on was titled “Heels merchandise head and shoulders above rest.”  The article stated that the Tar Heel brand name was a money-maker, and had generated $25.9 million for the university, according to a then-recent analysis by Forbes magazine.  Those sales had made UNC the most valuable men’s basketball program in the country.  As a result, it became clear that UNC and its leaders likely weren’t just trying to protect the banners that hung in the rafters of the Dean Smith Center, but also the revenue that poured in due to those teams’ successes. 
            Retailers in Chapel Hill spoke to about the ease of selling UNC-branded clothing, mugs, and other items.  “I told somebody the other day there’s only four things that people need.  That’s food, gas, shelter and Carolina souvenirs, and we happen to be in the latter part of that, so we’re very fortunate,” said Genny Wrenn, manager of a store on Franklin Street.  Carolina Brewery manager Thomas Transue said his restaurant was usually packed during the NCAA Tournament, especially when UNC was playing.  “There is such a strong background.  We’ve had folks coming in for years for the Tar Heels,” he said. 
            There were other measurable benefits to having a basketball program that accomplished great feats.  Based on a December 19, 2012, article in the News and Observer, the prior year’s profit from the school’s basketball team had been $16.9 million.  It had also ranked number one in a recent ESPN assessment of top 50 college basketball programs based on wins, championships, and lack of NCAA sanctions.  During the 2012 fiscal year, donations to the school’s Ram’s Club, which funded student-athlete scholarships and capital projects, had increased to $33 million. 
            The positive effects of a strong public perception could spread to other areas of the university, as well.  Statistics had long shown that freshman applications to a school often increased following a sports championship – of which UNC had won three since 1992.  Based on data from the school’s own site, the application rate continued to climb.  The site reported that in the fall of 2013 the university enrolled nearly 4,000 first-year students from a record 30,836 applications.  Furthermore, the school was 9th among leading private and public research universities for the level of federal funding devoted to research and development in all fields.  It was also among the top 100 U.S. colleges and universities awarding undergraduate degrees to minority students, according to a 2011 issue of the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.  The school ranked 2nd for graduating African-American students majoring in area, ethnic, cultural, gender, and group studies.  Unfortunately, that last statistic might be viewed in a somewhat critical light going forward due to the extensive AFAM scandal.
            How many of those donations, applications, honors and awards were connected to an image carved at least in part by athletes and their successes?  That would be a matter of opinion, obviously, unless one could find specific quotes from people who stated they were influenced by such athletic accomplishments.  The fact that UNC men’s basketball merchandise was the top seller in the entire country, however, spoke to the mindset of influence and desired conformity.  The fact that UNC sold merchandise, received applications, and were given grants was not just beneficial to it as a university and brand.  It also conversely had a negative effect on other area schools – schools that were actually doing things the right way, instead of simply claiming to do so.  Those schools that followed and played by the rules may have lost out on merchandise sales, and may have lost out on potential applications.  And while less likely, it cannot be said for certain that they didn’t lose out on grants and funding from certain entities, as well.
* * *
            Based on the numerous instances of public documents having been withheld, misinformation uncovered, and “no comments” often given, UNC made a conscious choice as to how to approach its problems over the past several years.  Those choices had come at a price – both in terms of reputation, but also one of monetary value.  Some of the figures have been discussed earlier in the book, but when looked at as a whole they become even more daunting.  An article appeared on the online site of Synapse Magazine in mid-November 2013 which gave an in-depth breakdown of some of the tolls incurred by UNC over the past three-plus years.
            Titled “The Cost of a Scandal,” the piece gathered its data from both publicly-released information as well as figures provided by the school itself.  The total amount spent for the academic and athletic portions of the university’s troubles reached nearly five million dollars.  Almost $500,000 was spent on lawyers during the initial 2010 football revelations and the first round of academic issues that arose afterwards.  That bill was picked up by two funds, the article reported.  About $219,000 came from the UNC Foundation, a portion of the University’s endowment that drew its funding entirely from private donations.  Approximately $248,000 of those first legal fees came from the athletic budget, university spokeswoman Karen Moon said.  The athletic budget typically did not set aside funds for unexpected expenses (such as legal fees), according to Martina Ballen, chief financial officer of the school’s athletic department.  She said extra revenue from men’s basketball and football from that year helped offset the costs. 
            Other dollar amounts were related to employee payouts.  When Butch Davis’ contract was terminated by the university, the choice was made to pay him a severance package of $2.7 million – even though wording in his contract suggested that he could have been fired with cause and paid nothing.  Disgraced assistant coach John Blake resigned, yet the university paid him $74,500.  Both of those monetary payouts came from the athletic budget.
            Next would be the fees for various public relations experts.  Those companies and/or individuals were hired at the urging of the school’s Board of Trustees and the UNC System’s Board of Governors.  In former Chancellor Holden Thorp’s own words, “Our board was uneasy about whether we were doing the best things we could in terms of public relations.” That led to the hiring of at least three communication experts, with a combined bill of over $530,000.  Sallie Shuping-Russell, secretary of the university’s Board of Trustees, tried to justify the high costs.  “It was no longer just about the athletics program,” she said.  “It became about the integrity of our school.  We were dealing with a level of issues that we didn’t have internal people to sufficiently handle.  It wasn’t like our internal team was just issuing the news – suddenly, we were the news.”  However, the hiring of the public relations experts didn’t bring about transparency and the truth, but rather a well-crafted message that was passed off to the public.  Many onlookers were intelligent enough to see the scandalous situations for what they truly were, and thus saw through the PR attempts.
            The infamous Martin investigation cost the school over one million dollars, much of which was paid to the Baker Tilly firm.  Even after spending all of that money for months of work, the company was still forced to recant one of its most vital findings when the local News and Observer newspaper showed it to be false.  All of Baker Tilly’s costs were also financed by the UNC Foundation.  All told, about a third of the money spent during the two scandals came from that Foundation.  It was a financial holding tank for the university that primarily funded scholarships, professorships, and fellowships, but in times of controversy the Foundation was said to be able to help with the load.  An issue that remained unaddressed was whether the numerous alumni, outside affiliates, students, and faculty who had donated money were satisfied knowing that part of their contributions had gone not towards the advancement of education, but rather to help pay off the effects (and suspected cover-up) of scandals.
            Hodding Carter, a UNC professor of leadership and public policy, told the magazine that far too often consultants were only hired to support the position of the administration.  “If you’re going to hire outside anything,” he said, “you better be damn well sure that those outsiders are ruthless, unyielding in their demand for information and absolutely committed beyond their paycheck.”  Based on how much information on the scandals those outside entities either missed (or purposely overlooked), it certainly did not appear that they fit the stringent parameters of which Carter referred.
            On the flip side of the coin was Jan Boxill.  The faculty chairwoman of the university had come under heavy fire for her suspected role in tampering with reports in an effort to dissuade the NCAA from returning to campus.  Not surprisingly, she toed the company line when it came to defending the use of extravagant outside sources, saying that external consultants were crucial for attempting to keep a unified faculty.  “I think if we had the faculty running investigations, the situation would have been more contentious and split,” Boxill said.  “It would have divided the faculty.  We wanted to bring consensus.”  To that effect, near-total consensus was exactly what UNC’s leadership got: other than Mary Willingham and Professor Jay Smith, virtually every other faculty member refused to speak out and stand up for what was moral and right.
            With regards to the handling of public relations, Stanley Katz offered a different and more sobering viewpoint.  A professor of public and international affairs at Princeton University, Katz gave his professional opinion that external help was inexcusable for public relations.  “Universities ought to be able to handle their own public relations,” he said.  “If the university sees the problem as a public relations issue, then it isn’t internalizing the fact that there is a problem with the way (the university) handles (itself).”
            Former Chancellor Thorp indicated that the current situation in which the university found itself could have possibly been reached more cheaply and with less turbulence.  Then, almost as a recurring punch line to an overused joke, he ended the article with the very same tired PR message that had been rolled out by university leaders for several years:  “But it was a tough situation, and I think Carolina is in a good position to move forward.”
* * *
The essential (and unanswered) questions:
-- Would the influx of national attention given to UNC’s scandals finally cause the NCAA to take appropriate action?
-- Other schools had been punished by the NCAA for much lesser infractions.  Why had they not shown public outrage over the preferential treatment that UNC seemed to be receiving?
-- How much money had UNC taken in – from merchandise sales, applications, and other sources – as a direct or indirect result from athletic successes that had possibly been built and achieved through fraudulent academic acts?

-- Why weren’t alumni, outside affiliates, students, and faculty who had donated money to the UNC Foundation not showing public displeasure at the arguably moral misuse of their contributions?

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-Two
NCAA stays away; Nyang’oro indicted; Hairston dismissed

            The final months of 2013 would contain a flurry of articles spanning nearly every aspect of UNC’s multiple scandals.  On September 27 the men’s basketball team began preseason practice.  Both P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald were present, but word was circulating that if the season had started that day, neither would be on the court.  It remained to be seen if that would truly be the case once the team played its opening game in six more weeks.  Meanwhile, more news emerged on other fronts.
            An October 7, 2013, article in the News and Observer provided an update on the AFAM department and the students who had been affected by fraudulent classes.  As of the article’s print date, only one student had enrolled in a make-up course and only one alumnus had inquired about the possibility, according to university officials.  UNC spokeswoman Dee Reid said that 46 people were at risk of not graduating unless they completed an extra course.  Reid said she didn’t know what year of study the 46 affected students were in or how many of them were athletes.  The offer of free courses was part of an arrangement the school made with SACS, the accrediting body of the university.  The academic degrees of 384 students and alumni were said to have been affected between 1997 and 2009, according to UNC.  Future data presented by the N&O, however, would show that the numbers were likely much higher: as many as 4,200 students could have ultimately been affected by taking fraudulent courses.
            Of the 384 people officially identified, 80 were current students and 304 were alumni.  There was no mandate for the alumni to return to campus to retake a class, however.  The article said that because university policy required that transcripts be sealed one year after graduation, there would be no way to award credit or a grade for a new class.  The university had said it would cover the cost of the extra courses and textbooks with private funds.  It remained unclear whether more students would feel obligated to do the extra work for a problem that was essentially caused by factions within the university itself.
* * *
            That same day a report came out stating that a longtime UNC tutor had quit, and done so in the form of writing a letter to basketball coach Roy Williams that was published in The Daily Tar Heel.  Jack Halperin’s short message said:  “Roy, after 23 years as an academic tutor, and after going through the devastating football scandal, I am resigning in protest of your disgraceful decision to allow P.J. Hairston to remain on the team.  If I were arrested driving with no license, illegal drugs and a gun in a felon’s car, my employment at this University would end immediately.  Hairston’s DTH quote was, ‘I will play this season.’  Since when does the criminal decide his fate?” 
* * *
            An article appeared on October 11, 2013, on detailing a new documentary film called “Schooled: The Price of College Sports”.  It was based on the widely read Atlantic article “The Shame of College Sports” by historian Taylor Branch.  Multiple people involved in varying aspects of college sports – both past and present – spoke in the documentary.  Two of particular interest were UNC learning specialist Mary Willingham and News and Observer reporter Dan Kane.
            “It’s the adults that are failing the students,” Willingham said.  She also recounted a sobering conversation with a top UNC athletic official, the article detailed.  The official acknowledged that investing millions to boost the school’s mid-level football team to the elite level in the late-1990’s would mean recruiting academically unprepared students.  “I just felt like I was drowning,” Willingham said of the “drastic drop” in athletes’ academic preparation that followed.  Some students who had been recruited couldn’t even read, and she recalled three in particular with whom she had to work on “letters and sounds.”
            When the article (based on the corresponding documentary) mentioned the fraudulent AFAM classes which displayed multiple signs of being a vehicle to keep athletes eligible, it observed that the NCAA declined to investigate UNC because athletes were not the sole beneficiaries of the classes.  “If the NCAA doesn’t want to look at this,” Dan Kane said, “you could argue they just sent a message to everyone across the county.”  He was likely referring to a “blueprint” that other schools could follow if they wanted to provide impermissible academic assistance to their athletes without garnering unwanted attention from the Athletic Association.
* * *
            UNC began its basketball season on November 8, 2013, and both P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sat out the contest.  No official word was given for their absence other than there being “eligibility concerns.”  There was another equally big story on that day as well.  A News and Observer article was released that stated the NCAA was unlikely to punish the school for the widespread academic fraud in its AFAM department. 
            Information had been discovered once again through public records requests by the newspaper that had finally been filled.  According to the N&O, newly released email correspondence revealed that the NCAA still did not see the school’s athletic/academic fraud as a concern.  Writer Dan Kane said that in late September, Vince Ille, a UNC senior athletic official who had first been discussed in Chapter Eleven of this book, asked the NCAA to confirm that it had no plans to further investigate the fraud.  “It is my understanding that, based on the available information, no additional investigation regarding these issues is being contemplated by the NCAA enforcement staff, nor does the staff believe that any modification of the infractions case that was complete on March 12, 2012 is necessary,” Ille wrote.  “Can you please confirm or correct this assessment?”  Less than an hour later, Mike Zonder, the NCAA’s associate director for enforcement, responded:  “You are correct in your assessment regarding the situation involving the AFAM department.”
            Zonder and NCAA President Mark Emmert did not respond to interview requests from the N&O.  A spokeswoman for the NCAA, Emily James Potter, said in a short statement that Zonder’s email was “correct.”  Ille and other UNC officials also declined to be interviewed.  An ambiguity was where Ille had initially gotten the impression that led to his email to Zonder: that it has been his “understanding” that nothing additional would happen to the university.  One possibility for that impression (which was hinted at in the article) could have come from Jackie Thurnes, Ille’s former co-worker when he was at the University of Illinois.  After working with Ille on that collegiate campus, Thurnes would leave Illinois to become an enforcement official with the NCAA.
            Overall, the article’s effect on the watchful public was one of stunned disbelief.  Over a year earlier in September of 2012, UNC officials had released a statement saying that the NCAA had thus far found no evidence of violations.  A vast amount of incriminating news had emerged since then, however, detailing multiple connections between athletics and the academic fraud.  So it was no surprise that onlookers were left dumbfounded by the NCAA’s continued indifference to the events in Chapel Hill.
* * *
            It was detailed in an earlier chapter the vast amount of money UNC had spent on outside public relations assistance – a known total in the half-million dollar range.  With that in mind, an early-November employment announcement from the school made an ironic bit of sense.  A release from on November 11, 2013, said that Joel Curran, a senior executive in a public relations agency and fittingly an alumnus of UNC, had been named the school’s first vice chancellor for communications and public affairs.  Curran was the managing director of the New York office for MSLGROUP, described in part as the world’s fourth largest public relations and engagement agency.  The news release added that he had worked at public relations agencies across the country.  Some people in social media speculated that if UNC felt the need to continue to spin stories and craft a certain message, they might as well hire someone full-time to help with that task.
* * *
            On December 2, 2013, an Orange County grand jury indicted former AFAM department chairman Julius Nyang’oro on a charge of obtaining property by false pretense.  More importantly, his lawyer – Bill Thomas of Durham – said that his client intended to fight the charge filed against him.  “Dr. Nyang’oro is presumed to be innocent under our law,” Thomas said.  “There’s been one side of this story that has been put forth in the press, but he’s going to have an opportunity to present his side.  We intend to present his case in court.  He is going to contest these charges.”  Those statements held some large ramifications, as Nyang’oro could possibly divulge a massive amount of as-yet-unreleased information about the AFAM scandal if put on the stand.
            An article on December 3, 2013, by the News and Observer also had further insight from Jim Woodall, the Orange County District Attorney.  Woodall had indicated that a second individual could face charges in the case, but he would only say that person was not a current UNC employee.  Widespread speculation was that he was referring to Deborah Crowder, the longtime AFAM department manager who had also been extremely close to factions within the school’s men’s basketball program.  Crowder had retired in 2009.
* * *
            Yet another embarrassing episode would hit the school’s basketball program a few days later.  On December 6, 2013, a former UNC player was found to have marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside a house he had been renting from head basketball coach Roy Williams.  According to a follow-up article from the News & Observer on December 13, Will Graves was the former player in question.  Police had found 4.4 grams of marijuana, eight marijuana seeds, three blunts, and two “burnt marijuana blunts” inside the rented house.
            Steve Kirschner, a UNC athletics department spokesman, said Graves had been renting the house from Williams while Graves took classes at UNC during the fall semester.  Graves had played for the Tar Heels from 2007 through 2010, but had actually been kicked off of the team by Williams for a violation of team rules.  Despite that prior conflict, Graves had been serving as a part-time video coordinator for the men’s basketball team at the time of the drug discovery.  Property tax records showed that the house had an assessed value of over $600,000.  In a separate article, Kirschner had told the Associated Press that Williams had allowed people to stay at the home periodically.
* * *
            On December 18, 2013, basketball player Leslie McDonald was cleared by the NCAA to return to the team.  He had missed a total of nine games due to receiving impermissible benefits.  Among them had been the use of cars associated with Haydn Thomas, the use of a custom mouth guard, and also an iPhone.  He was ordered to repay $1,783 to a charity of his choice before the end of the regular season. 
            Fellow player P.J. Hairston was not as fortunate.  The school announced two days later that Hairston would not return to the court that season, as the university had decided against seeking his reinstatement from the NCAA.  UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham gave more insight into the matter in a December 20, 2013, News and Observer article.  “We’ve all been hopeful the entire time that he would be able to play again,” Cunningham said.  “But by the time we gathered all the information and worked with the NCAA, it just wasn’t there.”  Cunningham declined to detail the exact monetary value of the impermissible benefits Hairston had received. 
            When news began to spread that the school hadn’t even asked the NCAA to look at Hairston’s situation, many in social media began to speculate whether there was a deeper reason for that inaction by the university.  Some wondered if the purpose was to keep from having to release information to the NCAA that might have uncovered even more issues within the basketball program.  Or, in Hairston’s specific case, might have spanned back to prior seasons and forced the vacating of wins.
            Hairston’s family released a statement in which it criticized UNC’s decision not to seek reinstatement, the N&O article reported.  “We are displeased with the University of North Carolina’s decision not to submit the necessary paperwork to the NCAA requesting to have P.J. reinstated,” the statement read.  “This process has been long, and for (it) to end without having a final decision from the governing body is a shame.”
            The Associated Press had earlier reported that Bill Thomas, a Durham lawyer representing Haydn Thomas, said his client had met with school officials in early December for “an in-depth interview… to clear up any misconceptions about the relationship between Haydn Thomas and Mr. Hairston.”  As an interesting and somewhat odd side note, Bill Thomas was also the lawyer representing former AFAM chairman Julius Nyang’oro in his grand jury case.
            Not really mentioned by the media at that time, but still an issue of great importance, was the school’s ongoing NCAA probation.  Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham had made the following statement in early 2013 when discussing the release of the Martin report:  “There’s no denying that we’ve got major violations and we’re on probation.  We didn’t go to a bowl game, and we’re under the repeat violator clause for the next five years.”  The infractions incurred by McDonald and Hairston would clearly appear to be a violation of the school’s probation.  Once again, where was the NCAA?
* * *
            As December would near its end, an article appeared on the website titled “Inside Roy Williams’ Most Trying Season.”  It talked of the effects the various scandals had had on the 63-year-old coach, with Williams saying, “I never in my life thought I’d have these kind of things happen.  It’s cast a light on our program that I don’t like, and it’s cast a light on me that I don’t like at all.”  Scott Williams, the coach’s son, actually had some very telling comments in the article – some of which could have even been considered  Freudian slips.  “It’s not that Carolina’s record is spotless,” the younger Williams said.  “No one’s record is spotless.  But in the past it was much easier to get things taken care of and not have everything play out in such a public forum.”
* * *
            With 2013 drawing to a close, it had ultimately proven to be another year of scandals surrounding the athletic/academic infrastructure of UNC, and another year of the university’s leadership refusing to come clean and show full transparency.  Public records and documents continued to be withheld from the media, which only prolonged the likely eventual emergence of more damning information in the future.  As it was, the tide would take a major turn when the calendar rolled over to 2014.  Once relegated to the local North Carolina sports and academic scenes, the story garnered national attention in a big way as the New Year began.
* * *
The essential (and unanswered) questions:
-- Even with a prodigious amount of new and incriminating evidence that clearly suggested widespread athletic/academic fraud, why was the scandal at UNC still not a concern to the NCAA as 2013 came to an end?
-- Did UNC not seek reinstatement for P.J. Hairston in an attempt to specifically avoid further scrutiny from the NCAA – scrutiny which might have spilled over to other players and/or earlier athletic seasons?

-- Considering the fact that UNC was already on probation following its multiple infractions from several years earlier, why didn’t the impermissible benefits received by McDonald and Hairston trigger immediate repercussions from the NCAA?

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One
Secretary of State football/agent indictments

            In early October it was announced that an Orange County (NC) grand jury had handed up five indictments related to the UNC football scandal from three years earlier.  According to an October 1, 2013, article posted by the local ABC station WTVD, the indictments were sealed and the names and charges were redacted in court documents that had been obtained.  The names would eventually be revealed in the coming weeks.
            The first indictment was for the UNC tutor who had been one of the centerpieces of the football academic scandal, Jennifer Wiley.  Now going under the married name of Jennifer Lauren Wiley Thompson, she had been one of 10 people found by the NCAA to have provided impermissible benefits – both academic and financial – to members of the UNC football team.  The WTVD article stated that in the course of a criminal investigation, agents with the Secretary of State’s office searched Wiley’s phone records – finding “extensive contact between Wiley and UNC-CH student athletes” and “direct contact between Wiley’s number and (sports agent) Peter Schaffer.”
            The second indictment, which was announced on October 9, was for a Georgia-based sports agent.  Terry Watson was indicted with 13 counts of providing cash or travel accommodations to former UNC players Marvin Austin, Greg Little, and Robert Quinn valued at nearly $24,000 in an effort to sign them, according to USA Today.  Watson also faced a count of obstruction of justice for not providing records sought by authorities.
            The third indictment was for Patrick Mitchell Jones, a real estate agent from Cartersville, Georgia, reported on October 14, 2013.  He was indicted with one count of athlete-agent inducement for providing money in May 2010 through a woman identified as Constance Orr to entice Robert Quinn to sign with agent Terry Watson.  Orr was a student and softball athlete at UNC at the time.
            The final two indictments were for Willie James Barley, who was indicted on four counts of athlete-agent inducement, and Michael Wayne Johnson, who was indicted on three counts of athlete-agent inducement.  According to a November 14, 2013, article in The Daily Tar Heel, Barley was employed by Watson Sports Agency.  Johnson was a graduate of Durham (NC) Hillside High School and was a former quarterback at N.C. Central University.  Johnson later worked for Rosenhaus Sports Representation, but his biography had been taken down from the agency’s website by the time of the indictment.
* * *
            An article on from October 10, 2013, warned that the initial five grand jury indictments might not be the end of the matter, as Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall had said there were other ongoing investigations involving UNC.  Of note was an investigation into the school’s AFAM department, which potentially held both academic and athletic ramifications.  Woodall had not announced who he and the SBI had been investigating on that front, but a question remained as to whether Julius Nyang’oro and possibly other members of the AFAM department had committed fraud by collecting paychecks for classes that were not taught.  More information on that front would surface in the coming months.
* * *
The essential (and unanswered) questions:

-- Had the athlete-agent aspect of the scandal been initiated completely from the outside, or had university representatives within the UNC infrastructure known about the ongoing impermissible benefits?

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty
Jan Boxill and athletic-minded edits to a faculty report

            As discussed in Chapter Eighteen, wording in a UNC internal academic report released in late July of 2012 had been changed at the last minute prior to its release.  The changes were initiated by Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the school’s Faculty Executive Committee.  When the News and Observer first reported on the changes in mid-May of 2013, some details were lacking as to why the edits were requested.  However, newly released correspondence led to a new N&O article on July 20, 2013.  The apparent motivation behind Boxill’s requests seemed to fall in line with the university’s perceived “athletics first” mantra that had become apparent over the years of scandals.
            The July 20 article, penned by Dan Kane, focused on emails between faculty leaders at the school.  The specific requested change by Boxill was in reference to Deborah Crowder, the long-time administrative assistant in the scandalous AFAM department who also had very close ties to the men’s basketball program.  With regards to why Crowder’s name and specific connections to basketball were being eliminated from the report, a past email from Boxill to the faculty authors of the special internal probe stated:  “The worry is that this could further raise NCAA issues and that is not the intention.”  Essentially, it appeared as if the school (and its leaders) were specifically trying to avoid more attention from the NCAA, and they felt that if too many specifics were included in the report, then the Athletic Association might return and open a new investigation.
            John Thelin, an education professor at the University of Kentucky and author of “Games Colleges Play,” indicated that rewriting a sentence that carried the suggestion of an athletic motive behind the scandal should not have been the mission of a member of the faculty.  “The faculty committee should not anticipate the audience or implications,” Thelin told the newspaper, “but rather fulfill the charge they undertook.”  Jay Smith, the UNC history professor who had long been one of the athletic/academic scandal’s most vocal critics, said of Boxill’s meddling:  “It seems consistent with what I have taken to be the university’s strategy all along, which is they wanted to come up with findings that seemed frank and candid, but which also carefully exclude any further NCAA investigation.”  That would be an important strategy indeed, as the article noted that the NCAA typically did not involve itself in academic fraud cases unless there was an intent to assist athletes above other students.
            Oddly, the change in the faculty report was made after Boxill and several committee members had praised previous drafts, Kane wrote.  Boxill said in an earlier email to the N&O that some faculty committee members objected to describing Crowder as “extremely close” to athletic personnel.  Boxill called it “vague without definite boundaries.”  Seven of the faculty members on the committee in a position to review the report said they did not make the suggestion; the other five who were not authors of the report could not be reached.  Boxill claimed others on the committee had suggested the change, but who those people were remained unknown.  Boxill did not respond to interview requests from the N&O for the July 20 article.
            Along with Crowder having many earlier-documented ties to athletics, Boxill herself was in a similar position.  She was a former women’s basketball coach at another university, and had worked in broadcasting with UNC’s women’s basketball team.  She also had extensive academic ties to UNC athletics.  For over 20 years – starting in 1988 – Boxill had been an Academic Counselor in the Student Athlete Development Center.  Other positions she had held in that Athlete Development Center in the past included the Learning Skills Coordinator, the Freshmen Academic Success Program Coordinator, the Tutor Coordinator/Supervisor, and the Intern Supervisor.  This begged a clear and obvious question: had Boxill used her position as chairwoman of the school’s Faculty Executive Committee to influence the 2012 internal report in an attempt to protect athletics?  Boxill was the first non-tenured faculty member elected to the chairman/woman’s post.  Ironically, the subject of one of her philosophy courses at UNC was ethics in sports.
* * *
            The authors of the 2012 faculty report were Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Steven Bachenheimer, and Michael Gerhardt.  According to the N&O’s article, correspondence among the three showed that they were worried that Boxill would try and dilute the findings of the report prior to its release.  They sent drafts to her in Portable Document Formats (PDFs) so she could not easily alter them.  After a draft of the report had been discussed in a Faculty Executive Council meeting, Gerhardt wrote in an email: “It seems to me that we might need to tell Jan that there is a line we hope she does not cross.”  Maffly-Kipp also questioned the need for the late changes.  “Why is it a good thing to remove Deborah Crowder’s name from the report?” she asked.  “The fact is, she was close to people in athletics.”  Gerhardt, a law professor, wrote:  “(Boxill) is free to disagree with the report as anyone is, but i (sic) cannot believe she has the authority to change what it says.  Indeed, apart from her lack of authority to do this, it strikes me as very poor political judgment.  Just imagine what the papers will do with that.”
* * *
            An editorial was released in the News and Observer on July 24, 2013, by staff writer Luke DeCock.  Following the story of Boxill’s role in the final faculty report, the editorial was largely directed at the faculty in general.  DeCock said that one of the most surprising developments in the three years since the school had admitted academic fraud was the role the faculty had played.  Specifically, “the faculty has been almost entirely absent.  Complicit, by collective silence.  Complicit, in the case of Jan Boxill, by action.”
            When referencing past half-hearted attempts at reform by the university, the editorial mentioned Thorp and his commission of the Martin report.  “Jim Martin, an honorable, respected, dignified man of distinguished service to the state of North Carolina, ended up the figurehead of a report that posed few legitimate questions and answered fewer, a whitewash.”  At the same time, however, DeCock said the faculty’s silence along the way may have been somewhat understandable – if not justifiable.  “It’s not hard to understand why some faculty may not have thought it worth speaking out.  Many had confidence in Thorp, a longtime colleague, and taking a more aggressive public stance would have meant crossing him.”  A year earlier while speaking at a forum on the future of intercollegiate athletics in Chapel Hill, Professor Hodding Carter III made reference to faculty inaction.  “As far as I can see, on one campus after another, the silence of the faculty is very much the silence of the lambs,” Carter had said, “allowing the slaughter of the integrity of the institutions they serve to go forward.”  As was widely known at the time of DeCock’s editorial, essentially the only two UNC faculty members who had shown any sort of displeasure in the university’s handling of the scandal were Jay Smith and Mary Willingham. 
            The piece ended by referencing the late Bill Friday, a long-time academic leader in the state who was associated with UNC.  Also included was a pointed condemnation of the school’s storied reputation:  “Perhaps the disclosure of Boxill’s role will serve as a catalyst for more decisive action on the part of her colleagues, because North Carolina is making a mockery of Friday’s dream.  That’s no way to honor the legacy of a man who deserves better, or a school that once stood for something more.”
* * *
            In an interview almost 10 days later, Boxill finally spoke about the changes she had made to the 2012 faculty report.  In a July 30, 2013, article in the News and Observer, Boxill said her suggestion for a revision came from other committee members who, during a session to review the draft, did not like the phrase “athletic supporter” (when referencing Deborah Crowder), partly because of its alternative meaning as a “jock strap”.  Boxill said she did not remember which members had uttered the concerns in the committee meeting.  As noted in Kane’s article from a week and a half earlier, all of the members he had spoken to had denied making the suggested changes.  Not surprisingly, also left unaddressed in the new article was why Crowder’s name had been completely removed from the report.
* * *
The essential (and unanswered) questions:
-- Did Jan Boxill change the wording of a 2012 academic report with the specific intent of trying to keep the NCAA from returning to campus?

-- Given Boxill’s close ties to UNC athletics for over 20 years, had she used her then-current position of leadership to purposely try and shield the school’s athletic programs from additional scrutiny? 

Tarnished Heels -- Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen
PJ Hairston and impermissible benefits; connections
between basketball players, felons, and UNC alumni

            As covered in the beginning of the book, in early January of 2010 a number of Tar Heel star football players announced they would forgo the NFL draft and return to school.  The majority of them would eventually lose their NCAA eligibility due to accepting impermissible benefits.  Fast forward to April 12, 2013.  P.J. Hairston, the basketball team’s leading scorer the previous season, announced he would return to UNC for his junior year instead of entering the NBA draft.  Hairston released a statement at the time of his decision: “I value the experiences I have had over the past two years in Chapel Hill and hope to continue to grow under Coach Roy’s guidance.  Coach always says when you focus on the team during the season, he will support us in the offseason – this is my way of supporting coach, my teammates and the Tar Heel community.  Go Heels!”  Unfortunately for Hairston, his career would take a very similar turn as some of those other gifted UNC athletes who chose another year of school over a guaranteed professional payday.  And as was the case with the football players who elected to stay in Chapel Hill, perhaps there was an underlying reason for them returning after all.
            On May 13, 2013, Hairston was caught speeding in Durham County in a 2012 Camaro.  Not much was said about the event, despite the fact that the vehicle was on the expensive end of the spectrum for many college students.  A few weeks later, however, Hairston had another run-in with the law.  On June 5, 2013, he was stopped in Durham and charged with possession of marijuana.  The initial details were limited, but the vehicle that was cited at a Durham traffic stop was a 2013 Yukon, and was reported to be a rental.
            A June 6, 2013, article by USA Today Sports recounted some of the information from the traffic stop.  According to police, Hairston was stopped at an intersection for a license check at 10:20 p.m. the prior evening.  He and two other passengers faced misdemeanor drug charges, the article said.  Hairston also was charged with driving without a license.  Steve Kirschner, UNC’s senior associate athletics director for communications, said in a statement: “Coach Williams and Bubba Cunningham are aware of a situation that took place last evening with P.J. Hairston.  We’re currently looking into it to gather the facts.  We will issue a statement when we have enough information to do so.” 
* * *
            For several weeks the story remained dormant.  The rumors were plenty, and were mostly discussed through social media: Hairston apparently didn’t have a license; a gun had been found outside the vehicle; the Yukon was a rental.  Little official confirmation, though, could be found from media (or university) sources.  That would partially change on June 30, 2013, as information from what had become a reputable non-media source emerged.  As had been the case on several occasions over the previous few years, it came via the website. The details were from the same message-board user who had broken the story about the transcript identity of Julius Peppers the previous summer, as well as several other key aspects of the ongoing athletic scandal.  Based on internet archives of the website from the evening of June 30, people from multiple sites across the internet immediately took serious notice of the claims the board user was making – largely because of his accurate informational track record. 
Parts of the post said: “The renter of the vehicle Hairston was driving on the night he was arrested was Haydn ‘Fats’ Thomas of Durham, 39 years of age.  [Thomas] has prior arrests on a variety of counts, but more recently (and most notably) on drug and weapons charges.”  The post gave further background information on Thomas, including links to his past criminal history.  It closed by referencing the potential NCAA impact of Hairston’s actions:  “What is no longer in question is whether [Hairston] accepted a “gift” (in the form of a rental vehicle) from someone.  What is in question, is why that gift was made.  And who at unc (other than Hairston himself) had knowledge of it.”
A free-flow of information would begin to gather on the website over the next few days as the story began to pick up steam on the internet.  The information was finally confirmed by a mainstream media source several days later.  In a July 3, 2013, article from USA Today Sports, college basketball writer Eric Prisbell presented the first of numerous eventual blows to UNC and Hairston that would be seen nationwide.  It stated that the newspaper had obtained a rental receipt showing that Haydn Thomas had indeed rented the 2013 Yukon.  In the article, Thomas said he had rented the car for himself and that a friend, Miykael Faulcon of Durham, had borrowed it to go to a store when the arrest occurred.  “I don’t know P.J. Hairston,” Thomas said.  “I know Miykael, his friend.  I don’t know anyone at Carolina.  I don’t even like the Carolina team.  Look at the age disparity between me and those boys.  I could be their father.”  Despite those bold statements of denial, in the coming days they would be shown to be false.
Other specific details from Prisbell’s article on July 3 were that the Yukon was rented at 10 p.m. June 2 at the Hertz location at Raleigh Durham International Airport, and was returned at 10:30 p.m. June 5.  The charge was $1,261.64.  The license plate number on the rental receipt matched the one listed on the police report of Hairston’s arrest, as did the year, make and model of the vehicle.  The police report revealed that a 9-millimeter handgun was seized during the traffic stop that led to Hairston’s arrest on possession of marijuana charges.  The handgun was found outside the vehicle, according to the limited report.  Thomas went on to say that he knew Faulcon from “partying at clubs.”  He seemingly went out of his way to add that he was not a University of North Carolina athletic booster nor was he connected to a sports agent.  “Why am I being persecuted?” Thomas asked.  “I did not rent nobody a car.”
            Following Hairston’s arrest in June, UNC basketball coach Roy Williams had told USA Today Sports that he was waiting for more information before making a decision about Hairston’s status with the team.  “The good thing is,” Williams said, “I don’t have to make a decision right now because we’re in summer school, fall semester has not started, basketball has not started.  We’re going to wait and see what happens.  I’ve got some ideas, but right now those ideas are staying in my mind.  I am waiting until all the facts come in and then I will take care of everything that needs to be taken care of.”  As of July 3, some very specific facts had been revealed.  Yet at the time, Williams – and UNC – remained silent on Hairston’s status with the team, taking no punitive action against him.
* * *
            Three days later more news would emerge, much of which debunked some of the quotes that Haydn Thomas had given just a few days prior.  Based on more receipts that were obtained by USA Today, Eric Prisbell wrote on July 6, 2013, that the Camaro that Hairston was driving on May 13, 2013, when he received a speeding ticket was also a rental.  That Camaro had been paid for by a woman who shared a Durham address with Haydn Thomas, seemingly eliminating the claim that Thomas did not know Hairston, as well as the possibility that the Yukon rental had been a one-time type of event. 
            The woman’s name was Catinia Farrington, and the address she listed on the Hertz rental receipt matched the address Thomas listed on his voter registration.  The Camaro had been rented from April 25 through June 17 of 2013, a period of 54 days.  The bill for Farrington was $3,249.  In addition, Thomas himself had rented the same vehicle from March 25 through April 15, for charges of $2,468.47.  Corresponding information indicated that receipts were only available from Hertz for a six month period, so whether the Camaro had been rented earlier than January was unknown.  Calls to both Thomas and Farrington prior to the second story by Eric Prisbell were not returned.
* * *
            By this time two major stories had come out regarding a star UNC basketball player and almost certain impermissible benefits, yet Roy Williams and UNC maintained their silence.  Unfortunately for the school, even more information would continue to surface that connected Haydn Thomas to Hairston and the university.  In a USA Today Sports article from July 10, 2013, it was reported that four rental vehicles linked to Thomas had received a total of nine parking citations on the school’s campus since February.  The citations were all issued between February 21 and May 28, 2013, and were for vehicles that either Thomas or Farrington had rented from the Hertz location at the local airport.
            The vehicles included both the aforementioned 2013 Yukon and 2012 Camaro that Hairston had been driving during run-ins with the law.  The other vehicles were a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2013 Mercedes Benz.  An interesting side note was that while the Mercedes had received four tickets between May 8 and May 30, a peculiar message had actually been sent out via the Twitter social media site on December 20, 2012, from an acquaintance of Hairston named Jarrett Ballard.  The tweet said, So pj comes to pick me up in.. 2012 Benz 2door.”  While vague in nature, given the latest revelations the tweet at least hinted at the possibility that Hairston had been driving high-end vehicles for some time.  The article said that unpaid fines for the tickets totaled $315.  The newspaper contacted UNC’s department of public safety seeking more information about the citations, but was referred to the university’s general counsel’s office.
Some conflicting quotes were given in the article regarding the relationship of Haydn Thomas with Hairston and another of the young men who had been involved in the June 5 traffic stop in Durham.  Thomas had earlier stated that he didn’t know Hairston, but was acquainted with Mykael Faulcon – and it was Faulcon for whom the vehicle had been rented.  Writer Eric Prisbell spoke with Trudy Ransom, Faulcon’s mother, who said that her son and Thomas had no relationship.  “I don’t know why (Thomas) 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.”
Another potential ramification of the parking tickets dealt with the time frame of the dates.  The earliest on-campus citations were issued on February 21st, which was still during UNC’s 2012-13 basketball season.  The Tar Heels would go on to win four more regular season games, two ACC Tournament games, and one NCAA Tournament contest.  If Hairston had indeed been driving one of those rental vehicles when it was ticketed on February 21st, that would constitute an impermissible benefit – and make him ineligible for the remaining games on the team’s schedule.  That would also retroactively vacate those seven victories should the NCAA choose to pursue the matter. 
* * *
            The next big revelation would come two days later, and it would almost completely shatter the earlier statements given by Haydn Thomas.  The felon’s contention was that the rented Yukon had been for Mykael Faulcon, and that Thomas did not know P.J. Hairston.  The Raleigh News and Observer entered the fray in a big way via a July 12, 2013, article, providing evidence that discredited those earlier statements. 
            The newspaper had obtained a detailed police report into the Durham traffic stop and arrest of Hairston, which also included interviews with Hairston and the two other young men who had been with him at the time.  The report revealed that Hairston told police he had switched places with a passenger to try to avoid a citation of driving without a license; he admitted to being a “recreational” marijuana user; and perhaps most importantly he said that he had been given the rental car to go to Atlanta and see friends.  As the paper pointed out, the details within the police report directly countered claims by Haydn Thomas.  In it, Hairston admitted via interviews with the police that he received the vehicle “from Fats.”
            The detailed report revealed numerous contradictions from earlier statements, and also pointedly confirmed (by Hairston’s own admission) that the vehicle had been rented for him, and not Mykael Faulcon.  Haydn Thomas had told USA Today a week earlier that he didn’t know Hairston, but he later told the N&O that he knew UNC athletes through parties.  Thomas could not be reached for comment for the July 12 article.  Considering the multiple contradictions that were now on record, any statements by him likely would have been viewed as extremely questionable, regardless.
* * *
            Just over a week later it was announced that all charges against Hairston related to the arrest in Durham had been dismissed, with no further explanation given by the police.  In a July 22, 2013, article in USA Today Sports, UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham said that the school had no update on Hairston’s status with the program in light of the charges being dropped.  At the time the university had still taken no disciplinary action against the star player.  In a written statement by head basketball coach Roy Williams, he said: “Other issues have been written about recently that are disturbing and bother me deeply.  Our basketball program is based on great ideals and these issues are embarrassing.  These are not common in my 10 years as head coach at UNC and they will all be dealt with harshly and appropriately at the correct time to ensure that our program will not be compromised.”  Oddly, the charges against Hairston’s two passengers during the June 5 arrest apparently weren’t dropped.  Furthermore, Haydn Thomas told USA Today Sports that he had yet to be contacted by either the NCAA or UNC.
* * *
            Despite somehow escaping any legal consequences from the drug and gun incident in Durham, less than a week later Hairston found himself in trouble with the law yet again.  On July 28, 2013, he was pulled over for travelling 93 mph in a 65 mph zone and cited for speeding and careless and reckless driving.  Following Hairston’s third legal infraction in just over three months, UNC apparently could no longer dodge taking disciplinary action.  Basketball coach Roy Williams announced later on the evening of the 28th that he was indefinitely suspending Hairston.  According to a July 29, 2013, article by USA Today Sports, the university’s three-sentence press released cited only the most recent traffic citation, as opposed to including the other questionable events that had festered since late May.
            More troubling connections emerged in August regarding Hairston and his possible impermissible use of vehicles, further clouding the guard’s future eligibility at UNC.  In an August 9, 2013, article by Associated Press writer Aaron Beard, university records that had been recently released showed that a rental car driven by Hairston also had a dozen campus parking citations over a two-month period.  The vehicle was the 2012 Camaro in which Hairston had been charged with speeding in May.  The parking violations stretched as far back as April 1, 2013.  Additionally, the majority of the violations were new information, and above and beyond what USA Today had reported in its July 10 article.
            As if there were any questions whether Hairston (or another basketball player) had accumulated the tickets, three of the citations were issued while the Camaro was parked near the Smith Center and Hairston’s dorm, the A.P. article stated.  In addition to the tickets for the Camaro, a 2009 Porsche Cayenne registered to Catinia Farrington was twice cited for campus parking violations.  As noted earlier, Farrington, who shared an address with Haydn Thomas, had been the official renter of the Camaro when Hairston had received his first speeding ticket in May.
* * *
            By mid-August there was little doubt that Hairston had received impermissible benefits.  The biggest unanswered question was why, and whether there was the possibility of a deeper and more coordinated system of benefits for UNC athletes.  Possible theories began to take shape based on several sources of information.  The first clue initially seemed unrelated.  Pictures of fellow basketball player Leslie McDonald had surfaced over the summer showing him using a custom mouth guard in UNC basketball games.  Upon further inspection, his name had also appeared on the website of “Iceberg” mouth guards.  When information of this potential impermissible benefit began to show up on social media sites, UNC sent a “cease and desist” order to the company, telling it to not reference McDonald on its website.  Interesting connections would then be pieced together via public records, however.
            The parent company of the custom mouth guards, ICEBerg Holdings LLC, had filed its Articles of Organization in the State of North Carolina in April of 2013.  The executors were Lee Gause and Spencer Howard.  Gause was a New York based dentist, and Howard was a dentist working in Durham, NC.  Gause earned his undergraduate degree from UNC, while Howard was a graduate of the university’s School of Dentistry.
            Further background on the two men showed that Spencer Howard was associated with several other businesses in NC.  Howard was a co-incorporator of the Durham business Kairobi Exotic Rentals and Transport, Inc.  The man who was the other co-incorporator was Haydn Thomas – the convicted felon who was tied to P.J. Hairston and the multiple rental vehicles.  The connections did not stop there, however.  Haydn Thomas was also the registered agent for the then-dissolved business Six Sigma Consulting.  Public documents showed the business’s address as 415 Dunstan Avenue in Durham.  Various online references showed that address as also being associated with Spencer Howard.  Furthermore, Haydn Thomas was also listed as the registered agent for the “Spencer B. Howard Dds Pa 401k Profit Sharing Plan and Trust,” and Thomas also showed up in various online pictures of Howard’s Durham office, with the felon appearing to have an on-site desk and work area.
            The connections, all verifiable through public documents, were potentially damning.  P.J. Hairston, who chose to return to UNC for his junior season instead of entering the NBA, on multiple occasions used rental vehicles connected to Haydn Thomas, a convicted felon.  Hayden Thomas had multiple business connections with UNC Dental School alumnus Spencer Howard.  Howard was co-executor of the Iceguard company with Lee Gause, another UNC alumnus.  The Iceguard company had not only supplied UNC basketball player Leslie McDonald with benefits, but also used his name on its website – while McDonald was an amateur NCAA athlete. 
            Speculation on social media began to ask questions of the UNC School of Dentistry, and what role (if any) it and some of its other alumni might have played in the providing of benefits to UNC athletes.  As was covered in an earlier chapter, Tami Hansbrough had first worked for the Dental Foundation before getting a more prestigious job by way of Matt Kupec.  However, as was also importantly noted in that chapter, the Dental Foundation had refused to release certain documents under a public request law, saying that it was a private entity.  So whether there was any level of corruptness with regards to the foundation, its alumni, and athletes would remain unknown – unless the NCAA chose to piece together the evidence and find out for itself.
* * *
The essential (and unanswered) questions:
-- How long had Hairston – and potentially other UNC basketball players – been using rental vehicles supplied by boosters?
-- Why did the NCAA choose to not pursue the possibility of vacated wins from UNC’s 2012-13 basketball season, despite strong evidence that eligibility rules had been broken?
-- Why did the Durham police department drop Hairston’s charges, but apparently not those of his two passengers?

-- Based on business connections with felon Haydn Thomas, was there a deeper connection between UNC athletes and university alumni Spencer Howard and Lee Gause regarding impermissible benefits?