NCAA rules Leslie McDonald eligible

Three days after North Carolina’s high-profile game against Kentucky, UNC received a much-anticipated ruling on player Leslie McDonald.

The NCAA cleared McDonald to compete. He sat nine games as punishment for receiving “numerous impermissible extra benefits,” the NCAA said in a release.

McDonald must repay $1,783 to a charity of his choice, the NCAA ruled.

The NCAA release did not mention another UNC player, P.J. Hairston, who has been indefinitely suspended after several traffic violations that led to the discovery of marijuana possession. More than once, the car he drove had been rented to a convicted felon and possible UNC booster.

ESPN announcers Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale, who both worked the UNC-UK game, criticized the NCAA for not having already resolved the McDonald and Hairston cases.

The NCAA release explained the pace of case.

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 said. 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, the release said. These benefits included the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging. McDonald, a senior, must complete the repayment of impermissible extra benefits before the last regular season game.

As of early this week,  McDonald’s reinstatement request was the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina, the NCAA said.