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UNC's McDonald cleared to play by NCAA

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

University of North Carolina basketball player Leslie McDonald can return to the Tar Heels lineup, the NCAA ruled Wednesday in an announcement that also detailed the reasons he had been out.

The NCAA said McDonald must repay $1,783 to the charity of his choice "for receiving numerous impermissible extra benefits."

McDonald has been out nine games. The Tar Heels play Texas Wednesday night in the Smith Center. McDonald, a 6-5 guard, averaged 7.2 points and shot 36 percent from behind the arc last year in a reserve role.

The NCAA did not mention anything about Tar Heel guard P.J. Hairston in the release. Hairston also has not played this season after having multiple offseason problems, including a marijuana charge.

The situations with Hairston and McDonald have put stain on what has traditionally been a clean Carolina program.

Hairston was cited June 5 while driving a rental vehicle linked to a felon. In July, he was charged with driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone on I-85.

Hairston led the Tar Heels in scoring last season, at 15 points per game.

Carolina endured another embarrassing round of publicity  recently when reports  showed  former Carolina player Will Graves had been arrested for marijuana possession while renting a house from Coach Roy Williams.

North Carolina discovered the rule violations with McDonald on Oct. 24, the NCAA said, and then submitted a reinstatement request to the NCAA for McDonald on Dec. 11.

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, the NCAA said.

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 well-being, 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.

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