Indiana News

Notre Dame AD: Te'o Situation Was "Elaborate, Sophisticated Hoax"


Manti Te'o (photo courtesy University of Notre Dame Athletics)

Notre Dame's Athletic Director spoke out Wednesday about the controversy surrounding star football player Manti Te'o and his supposedly dead girlfriend.


Jack Swarbrick said Te'o was the victim of an elabroate and sophisticated hoax surrounding his supposed girlfriend Lennay Kukua who was believed to have died in September from leukemia.  Swarbrick said Te'o and the woman had a strictly online and telephonic relationship, despite reports the two had met several times.  He said Te'o became suspicious when he received a phone call from the same woman in December while attending an ESPN award show saying she in fact was not dead.

Swarbrick said Te'o informed his parents, coaches and Swarbrick himself of the situation.  He said the university hired a private investigation firm to look into the situation.  That investigation, Swarbrick said, revealed online chatter among multiple perpetrators bragging about what they had accomplished.

Swarbrick said he was standing behind Te'o and nothing he has learned has shaken his faith in the star player.  "The thing that I am most sad about is that the single most trusting human being I've ever met will never be able to trust in the same way again in his life.  That's an incredible tragedy."

Swarbrick reiterated several times that Te'o, not the university, is the victim which is why they didn't contact law enforcement officials.  He said the decision on a next step was left to Te'o and his family.

Swarbrick wouldn't comment on many details, including the reports that Te'o and his family had met Kukua.  He said Te'o's family planned to release the story to the media next week but the story was leaked online at  Swarbrick said Te'o plans to speak about the situation sometime Thursday.


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