CHAPEL HILL– UNC fifth-year senior guard Leslie McDonald has been cleared by the NCAA and will return to court in Carolina’s game against Texas Wednesday night.
McDonald sat out the team’s first nine games due to a violation of NCAA rules. He must repay $1,783 to a charity of his choice for receiving numerous impermissible extra benefits.
According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the University and the NCAA, 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 repay the $1,783 of impermissible extra benefits before the last regular season game.
Head Coach Roy Williams says it has been a “terrible time for Leslie and his family and our basketball team.” But Coach Williams says he’s happy to get McDonald back in the lineup and improve Carolina’s depth.
“We are certainly glad to have this issue resolved for Leslie,” says head coach Roy Williams. “It has been a terrible time for Leslie and his family and our basketball team. I was very disappointed by Leslie’s actions and he knows this. He has suffered the consequences of his actions and I hope he has learned a lesson that I also hope his teammates recognize. Leslie has been a sensational teammate and worked hard in practice to help our team. He understands what he has already lost and wants to really enjoy this second chance. Leslie has one more semester to contribute to our team and finish his degree. I feel sure he will be truly dedicated to accomplishing both of those goals.”
McDonald says he feels “blessed to play again for Carolina.” He has played in 100 games as a Tar Heel, scoring 581 points and made 104 three-pointers. McDonald promises to add a much needed outside shooting threat to UNC.
“I feel blessed to play again for Carolina,” says McDonald. “I truly regret putting my family, UNC and my teammates and coaches through this. I apologize to everyone who cares about the University of North Carolina and will do what I can to make up for it. You never know how much you love to play the game until you are not allowed to. I learned that two years ago when I hurt my knee and had to sit out an entire season. I hated going through it again, but it was a result of the mistakes I made. I am going to enjoy every minute of this second chance and play as hard as I can to help my teammates and coaches as they have helped me.”
UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says situations like these should serve as learning tools for the future.
“Eligibility issues are some of the most important ones we face in college athletics because they directly impact so many people,” says Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “These issues have had an effect on not only Leslie, but his coaches, teammates and everyone who supports our program. He made some mistakes and faced serious consequences as a result, but I am glad for Leslie that he is able to return. We all must learn from these situations and avoid the kind of problems that could jeopardize eligibility and our program’s success.”