The story of Manti Te’o has taken a series of very bizarre turns today. In a press conference, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick claims that Te’o wasn’t lying about his dead girlfriend, but is actually the target of an elaborate online hoax.
According to Swarbrick, Manti was involved in an online relationship with a person he believed to be Lennay Kekua. However, Lennay Kekua doesn’t exist. Swarbrick compared the relationship to the documentary “Catfish,” noting the hoax, “Had a certain cruelty at its core.”
Swarbrick says Manti disclosed the situation to his parents after receiving a call from the girlfriend he believed was dead after a battle with leukemia. The person claimed that she actually wasn’t dead and hoped to restart the relationship.
Later, on December 26, Manti explained the situation to the Notre Dame coaching staff, who informed Swarbrick. After lengthy discussions with Te’o, the school hired an outside investigator to look into the hoax. Upon receiving the final report the school learned that Manti was not the only victim of the hoax. Swarbrick says Notre Dame has no plans to release the information contained in the investigation’s final report.
When a reporter said that it seems deceiving for Te’o to speak to publicly about a person he never met, Swarbrick countered, “Then you don’t know Manti.” He went on to call him an extraordinary man who became more engaged and focused the more trouble the girl was in.
“The thing I’m most sad about is,” Swarbrick says, “He’ll never be able to trust again in his life. That’s a tragedy.”