Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick defended former star linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o following a Deadspin.com report that Te’o’s girlfriend Lennay Kekua — who supposedly died of leukemia in September — was a hoax.
“I want to stress, as someone who has been engaged in this as anyone the past couple weeks, that nothing I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te’o one iota,” Swarbrick said. “The same great young man, great student and great athlete that we have been so proud to have as a member of our family is the same guy tonight, unchanged in any way except for, as he indicated in the statement, his release, the embarrassment of being a victim in this case.”
But is Te’o really a victim?
Swarbrick said Te’o talked about “meeting” Kekua. When he asked Te’o to clarify that statement, Te’o explained that he was referring to meeting her online.
In fact, Swarbrick added, it was exclusively an online relationship.
“Several meetings were set up where Lennay never showed,” Swarbrick said.
But in an interview for ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Oct. 2, Te’o said that she was, “The most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. Not because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her character and who she is.”
You can see that portion of the interview at 2:20 in the video below:
Deadspin summarized their story about the hoax this way:
“There was no Lennay Kekua. Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te’o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te’o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te’o every night on the telephone.
She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te’o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te’o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral.
Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te’o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest. Lennay Kekua’s last words to Manti Te’o were not ‘I love you.’”
Te’o is preparing for the NFL Draft.
While Te’o issued a statement, he may meet with the media on Thursday.
Now, just imagine if he had won the Heisman.