Tar Heels G McDonald reinstated

Hairston remains suspended

Published On: Dec 18 2013 03:47:12 PM CST
closeup of basketball seams, ball

North Carolina senior guard Leslie McDonald was cleared to play immediately by the NCAA on Wednesday after sitting out nine games because of a suspension for receiving improper benefits.

Teammate PJ Hairston, the team's leading scorer last season, remains suspended. The NCAA said it had not received any other reinstatement requests from North Carolina outside of Hairston's.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Hairston, who has not played this season, might leave school and declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft. Earlier this year, Hairston was involved in a series of incidents involving rental cars and improper benefits that connected the junior to Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a convicted felon.

McDonald will be eligible to play for 14th-ranked North Carolina on Wednesday night against Texas.

As part of the NCAA ruling, McDonald must repay $1,783 to a charity of his choice before the Tar Heels' final regular-season game on March 8 against Duke. The impermissible benefits included luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging.

The NCAA said it received a reinstatement request for McDonald from the university on Dec. 11. North Carolina reported that it uncovered the violations on Oct. 24. According to the report, McDonald accepted extra benefits from several individuals during the spring and summer of 2013.

"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," Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said in a statement.

McDonald averaged 7.2 points per game last season.