Notre Dame, Te'o face fallout over apparent girlfriend hoax

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Notre Dame's Manti Te'o controversy has become one of the biggest stories in the country Thursday.

The front page of the New York Post calls it "Notre Shame."

The star football player at Notre Dame fought through the grief of his girlfriend's death to lead the Irish to the BCS championship game. Now it seems the girlfriend didn't exist.

The university is standing behind its star, insisting that Te'o was the victim of a cruel hoax.

University of Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick fought back tears Wednesday night while discussing Manti Te'o at a late news conference. He's convinced Te'o was the victim of an elaborate hoax.

"The thing I am most sad of, sad about is, sorry - that the single most trusting human being I've ever met will never be able to trust again in the same way in his life," said Swarbrick.

During the football season the story of the star linebacker enduring the death of his girlfriend and grandmother on the same day transcended sports. People from around the world were touched by how in love Te'o seemed to be with Lennay Kekua, the girl he called his soul mate.

"I cried, I yelled. I never felt that way before. This is six hours ago, I just found out that my grandma passed away. You take, you know, the love of my life," said Te'o.

On the day of his girlfriend's supposed funeral, Te'o played football. After the game, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly actually awarded the game ball to the girl we now know doesn't exist.

"I award this game ball to Lennay and I'd like Manti to have this ball to take it back to Hawaii for her," said Kelly.

Te'o told his coaches about the hoax on December 26th. Notre Dame kept the truth under wraps despite the fact that the media was still telling the story leading up to the national championship game.

"From the outset, we established a parameter that this was Manti's story to tell. We wanted to know it would be told. We wanted to know at the appropriate time when it would be told, but that it was his to tell," said Swarbrick.

Many people, including one of the reporters that broke the hoax story, doesn't think Te'o's story adds up.

"Te'o's story that he is completely innocent in this doesn't really shake through with us," said one reporter.

Did Te'o ever mention that he'd never actually met Lennay when talking about how much he loved her?

How did the story about how they first met at a football game start and if it wasn't true?

Why didn't Manti correct untrue versions of the story? How could he have been so in love with someone he'd never actually met face to face?

"You know, I think, as Manti tells the story, you'll see the same thing I saw, that it does fully line up," Swarbrick said.

Te'o graduated from Notre Dame in December and is now in Florida preparing for the NFL combine.