CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Friday called the unceremonious end to P.J. Hairston's playing career "probably the most difficult and saddest thing I've gone through as a head coach."
After holding Hairston out the first 10 games this season while investigating potential rules violations, the school announced Friday that it would not seek his NCAA reinstatement.
"We've taken a long time to get to this point," UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. "It's very disappointing for P.J. and his family. He has been terrific, as Roy has said, in the past six months in this entire process. ... We are not going to seek reinstatement for him."
Hairston and his family released a statement through an attorney Friday afternoon that said UNC's decision did not sit well with them.
"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 said. "This process has been long, and for (it) to end without having a final decision from the governing body is a shame. Ultimately this affects P.J., and his eligibility to play Division 1 colligate (sic) basketball for the remainder of this season, as well as next season."
The statement went on to say that Hairston, who led the Tar Heels with 14.6 points per game last season, will make an announcement about his future plans in the next few weeks and that he wishes the team "continued success."
Hairston had been practicing with UNC and has been on the bench for every home game. Williams previously noted he had been "the most dominating player on the perimeter in practice that I've ever coached."
But Williams said he understands why the school could not get him reinstated.
"The actions were there," Williams said. "All of us in life pay for our actions, and these are some very difficult consequences that he's paid for his actions. I have no problem saying that. That's the very frustrating part. The very mad part. Like your children, you get very mad and very upset at their actions, but you still love your children."
Troubles for the 6-foot-6 Hairston began in the spring after the first of several traffic incidents revealed his use of multiple rental cars provided by third parties, most notably felon and party promoter Haydn "Fats" Thomas.
Senior guard Leslie McDonald, who also was found to have received improper benefits from Thomas, went through a similar investigation but was reinstated Wednesday. He had 15 points in the Tar Heels' 86-83 loss to Texas that night.
McDonald missed the first nine games and must pay back nearly $1,800 in restitution to a charity of his choice.
According to the NCAA release, UNC discovered McDonald's violations on Oct. 24 and submitted a reinstatement request Dec. 11. The investigation found McDonald improperly accepted "the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cellphone and lodging" during the spring and summer of 2013.
Cunningham said he could not disclose many details from the joint investigation into Hairston's actions conducted by the university and the NCAA. He said people were interviewed "up until last week" regarding both Hairston and McDonald.
Cunningham said he told Hairston and his mother of the school's decision Wednesday.
"We had enough information that we all agreed upon -- the university and the NCAA -- to submit reinstatement for Leslie," Cunningham said. "We just didn't have it for P.J."
Cunningham said he did not have an estimate of the total amount of impermissible benefits Hairston received. He also did not answer directly when asked if Hairston was tied to an agent or misled investigators.
At the time of the news conference, Williams said he had not spoken with Hairston.
"P.J. made mistakes and I was very disappointed by his actions, and now he is suffering the very difficult consequences," Williams said in a statement released earlier Friday. "He is not a bad kid; he just made some mistakes."
Added Cunningham: "We're going to support him whatever he chooses to do next."