With Te'o silent, questions about hoax mount

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Questions are mounting about whether Manti Te'o was a victim of a cruel hoax about a fake dead girlfriend or a participant in the scam.

Notre Dame's student body president says most people on campus believe the popular football player's story that he was duped by the virtual romance.

Still, an Associated Press review of news coverage found that Te'o talked about his doomed love in an interview on December 8th and again in a newspaper interview published December 10th.

Both he and the university said he learned on December 6th that the woman he'd had a romantic relationship with wasn't dead and wasn't even real.

The compelling plotline about the death of his girlfriend, which followed shortly after the actual death of his grandmother, was part of the narrative in his bid to win the Heisman. He came in second.

Te'os family was to go public Monday

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says star linebacker Manti Te'o and his family were planning to go public about him being the victim of a hoax before an online report scooped them.

Swarbrick says on his weekly radio show the Te'os had planned to go public Monday with the hoax involving a dead girlfriend who never existed. But Deadspin.com broke the news with a lengthy report Wednesday.

Swarbrick says, "Sometimes the best laid plans don't quite work." He says the family from Laie, Hawaii, lost the opportunity "to control the story."

Swarbrick says he hopes the family makes itself available "to explain and to take questions, because we think that's in everybody's interest."

Swarbrick's radio show airs regionally on Saturday but was posted online as a podcast on Friday.

AD encourages Te'o to speak publicly

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says he is encouraging linebacker Manti Te'o to speak publicly about being the victim of a hoax involving a dead girlfriend who never existed.

Swarbrick says he believes Te'o has to explain exactly how he was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose "death" was then faked by the perpetrators of the hoax. Swarbrick says school officials would rather see Te'o talk about it "sooner rather than later."

Swarbrick says university officials understand there is more to be learned, but based on knowing Te'o he believes the linebacker is a victim. He says he will continue to believe that until given "compelling evidence to the contrary."

Swarbrick also says he understands why some people are skeptical about Te'o's story.

This is a chronology of how the fake girlfriend story grew, based primarily on Te'o's comments in social media and interviews.


May 13, 2012 - From Te'o's Twitter account: "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31:10 (hash)LMK


July 23 - From Te'o's Twitter account: mteo_5 Manti Te'o Be strong. Be brave. Never give up. (hash)3words (at)LennayKay


Sept. 13 - Asked by reporters, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says Te'o will play against Michigan State that Saturday despite the deaths that week of two people close to him. Media reports the next day identify the two as his grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua. Public records confirm that his grandmother, Annette Santiago, died Sept. 11.


Sept. 15 - Te'o has 12 tackles and breaks up two passes and the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish win 20-3 at No. 10 Michigan State. Te'o says afterward "I lost two women that I truly love" and that he had "my girlfriend's family around me."


Sept. 23 - In a one-on-one interview with Sports Illustrated, Te'o talks at length about his relationship with Kekua and her many health issues, making only one vague reference to meeting her for the first time in California in 2009. "We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular." He told SI they had been dating for a year. "Oct. 15 was the official date. Of last year. I've known her for four years. So we've been friends." A transcript of the interview was posted Thursday.


Oct. 1 - A Sports Illustrated cover story describes how Te'o received a call from Kekua's older brother informing him of her death. Te'o says: "My girlfriend always told me, 'Send roses while they can still smell them, tell people you love them while they can still hear.'"


Oct. 3 - Te'o says at a media availability that during the walk-through before the Irish's Sept. 22 game against Michigan, he asked what time it was and realized Kekua's casket had been closed a minute earlier. He says she wanted him to skip her funeral to play. He had two interceptions in that 13-6 victory.


Oct. 12 - A South Bend Tribune article, based on information from Te'o's father, describes how Te'o and Kekua met at a 2009 game at Stanford. Te'o's father, Brian, says she would visit him in Hawaii.


Oct. 12 - From Te'o's Twitter account: Today is October the 12th! A month ago my life changed dramatically! Thank you for all your love and support! Day by day! (hash)574L


Nov. 14 - In an Associated Press story, Te'o says that "every morning I wake up and my girlfriend is not on the phone. It reminds me that she's gone. That's the hardest part."


Dec. 8 - South Bend television station WSBT shoots video of Te'o saying in a pre-Heisman interview in New York, "I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer." That's two days after the date given by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick for when Te'o found out about the hoax.


Dec. 9 - At the Lott Impact Awards dinner, Te'o says that Kekua "made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play."


Jan. 5 - At the media day before the BCS title game, Te'o talks about his travails during the season, saying, "My team was always there for me, and my family was always there for me."

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