Archived Story

Irish’s Te’o victim of hoax

Published 8:50pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NOTRE DAME — It was a great story. One that helped an entire football team to achieve greatness.

Unfortunately for Manti Te’o and Notre Dame, it was just that. A story.

According to a report by, the inspirational story of how Te’o lost his grandmother and then his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, a few days later, was a hoax.

“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,” read a Notre Dame statement released to the press early Wednesday evening.

“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.”

Te’o also released a statement.

“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.

“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.”

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference Wednesday night. He said that he informed Brian Kelly, assistant coach Bob Diaco and a select few players.

Swarbrick added Notre Dame had independent investigators, who delivered the university a report Jan. 4.

Swarbrick said Te’o will “pursue his rights fully.”


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