SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ A story that Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o's girlfriend had died of leukemia _ a loss he said inspired him to help lead the Irish to the BCS championship game _ was dismissed by the university Wednesday as a hoax perpetrated against the linebacker.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says his faith has not been shaken in Te'o ``one iota.''
Swarbrick says an investigation by a firm the school hired has convinced him that Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose death was then faked by the perpetrators of the hoax.
Notre Dame released the following statement on Facebook:
It was the feel good story of the college football season; Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o playing through heartbreak after his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. Except that Te'o's girlfriend didn't actually die; and in fact, never actually existed.
The news was broken by Deadspin on Wednesday afternoon.
Read the Deadspin article HERE
The article prompted a response from Te'o and Notre Dame.
Manti Te'o Statement:
Te'o issued a statement Tuesday afternoon:
"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."
Notre Dame Statement:
On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.
University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President