Posted: 2:43 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
By Brian Barbour
The NCAA has just announced that UNC fifth year senior guard has been cleared to play having served a nine game suspension for improper benefits.
On Dec. 17, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill men’s basketball student-athlete Leslie McDonald was cleared to compete in the school’s next competition. McDonald sat nine games and must repay $1,783 to a charity of his choice for receiving numerous impermissible extra benefits.
North Carolina discovered the rule violations on Oct. 24 and then submitted a reinstatement request to the NCAA for McDonald on Dec. 11. The NCAA then worked with North Carolina to finalize the facts before the university submitted its complete request for McDonald's reinstatement on Dec. 17.
According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and the NCAA staff, McDonald accepted benefits from numerous individuals during the spring and summer of 2013. These benefits included the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging. McDonald must complete the repayment of impermissible extra benefits before the last regular season game, as this is his final season of eligibility.
"Out of concern for student-athletes safety and wellbeing, NCAA membership has created rules that limit improper third-party influence over student-athletes, and clearly state student-athletes cannot receive benefits based on their athletic ability," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, whose staff handles reinstatement requests.
When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete’s eligibility be reinstated. The NCAA staff reviews each student-athlete reinstatement request individually based on its own merits and set of specific facts. At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina.
The most important line in the whole release might very well be the last one. UNC has not requested reinstatement for P.J. Hairston. That probably isn't a good sign for the possibility of seeing Hairston wearing Carolina blue again.
Based on the release, it appears there was some overlap of McDonald's case into the same violations that have Hairston sitting out. McDonald's improper benefits involved cars, parking tickets being paid, the infamous iPhone he received from Haydn "Fats" Thomas and some form of lodging.
With McDonald's return, UNC gets another wing player added to a very thin position on the court. McDonald will likely come off the bench and his addition should help the overall quality of UNC's depth.