* P.J. Hairston's basketball career is over at North Carolina.

The school said yesterday that it won't seek Hairston's reinstatement from the NCAA after the junior committed several rule violations. Hairston hasn't played all season while the school and NCAA worked to resolve eligibility questions, many stemming from the use of cars linked to a felon and party promoter earlier this year.

Coach Roy Williams said it was "probably the most difficult and saddest thing I've ever gone through as a head coach."

The news came 2 days after the school announced the NCAA had cleared senior Leslie McDonald to return after missing the first nine games due to related violations.

"We tried to do everything we could possibly do to get both kids back playing," athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. " . . . We had enough information that we all agreed upon with the university and the NCAA to submit reinstatement for Leslie, but we just didn't have it for P.J."

Hairston led the team in scoring last year and was a dangerous outside shooter. He flirted with entering the NBA draft before deciding to return, yet he never made it back on the court. He has practiced with the team as a member of the reserves, including yesterday afternoon after the announcement, and has been on the bench for home games.

Hairston's family said in a statement that he would decide on his future in the coming weeks, while wishing the No. 14 Tar Heels continued success.

Authorities twice cited Hairston during the offseason while driving rental vehicles linked to Haydn Patrick "Fats" Thomas, of Durham, to raise the possibility of improper benefits violations.

* A former Connecticut female hockey player has joined the federal civil-rights lawsuit against the university that claims the school mishandled allegations of sexual assault on campus. The woman, who was not identified, says she was raped by a male hockey player in August 2011. She says she reported the assault to school officials and was advised to transfer and told she was not "stable enough" to be on the team. The school declined to comment.

* The Southeastern Conference fined four schools a combined $60,000 for violating league policies during the football season. Mississippi State and Mississippi were the hardest hit, with each school receiving a $25,000 fine. Mississippi State was fined for violating the league's artificial noisemaker policy because of fans' use of cowbells at inappropriate times, the school's second offense. Ole Miss was fined for violating the league's field access policy a second time when fans rushed the field following a 27-24 victory over LSU. Auburn and Missouri were fined $5,000 for a first violation of the field-access policy.

* Running back Melvin Gordon will return to Wisconsin for his junior season in 2014, he said in a statement.


* Prosecutors said they are dropping a domestic violence case against Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov because they have new information leading them to believe they couldn't win a conviction. Varlamov was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after his girlfriend told police he knocked her down with a kick, stomped on her chest and dragged her by her hair at their apartment on Oct. 30.

* Predators goalie Pekka Rinne's recovery from a hip infection will be at least 2 weeks slower, with doctors recommending Rinne continue limiting his activity. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist has been sidelined since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left hip Oct. 24 as a result of a bacterial infection. The infection developed in the same hip that was surgically repaired May 9 following the conclusion of last season.


* The United States fell behind in the Duel in the Pool in Glasgow, Scotland, putting it in position for its first loss in the event. The European All Stars won eight of 14 races to take a 68-54 into the second and final day. The U.S. has won all five previous Duels in the Pool, beating Australia in the first three and the Europeans in 2009 and 2011. Even without its top male swimmer, Ryan Lochte, the Americans won five of the seven men's races, with Olympic gold medalist Conor Dwyer taking the 400 individual medley. American Eugene Godsoe won the men's 200 backstroke, Micah Lawrence took the 200 breaststroke, Tom Shields won the 100 butterfly, and Michael Klueh topped the field in the 400 freestyle.

- Daily News wire services