Oh my! Manti Te'o story takes new and horrible twist


During the 13 months that I’ve covered him, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis has proven himself to be 100 percent honest. It’s one of his most solid characteristics and one of the things on which he prides himself.

Another is his ability to read people, build relationships and have an impact on the lives of hundreds of young men throughout the past few decades.

That’s what makes today’s Deadspin story about the tale of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend being a hoax seem like such an unbelievable thing.

Although Weis has talked very little about Notre Dame since taking over at Kansas in December of 2011, he has answered questions when asked and talked, both publicly and privately, about how much he values his relationship with Te’o and his family.

Weis certainly had nothing to do with any of this, but I can only imagine how much hearing this news hurts him emotionally, given the strong bond he has with the Te'o family, and how much it will really hurt him if it turns out to be true.

No one knows what to think right now but this much we do know: Deadspin’s report was wonderfully done and, if accurate, brings shame to the entire Te’o family.

Here's the official statement from Notre Dame released just moments ago:

Notre Dame Statement: Manti Te’o

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. 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.

Dennis Brown University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President

Statement from Manti Te'o:

"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.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

"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.

"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."


meatheadwisdom 6 years, 10 months ago

Before I read this I assumed the hoax was going to be a fictitious girlfriend who died to hopefully inspire Heisman votes. It'll be interesting to hear how things turn out.

meatheadwisdom 6 years, 10 months ago

And now having read the Deadspin article that may be exactly what was intended...if it is true

Hurinfan 6 years, 10 months ago

Did Weis have anything to do with the hoax or do you mean hurting him emotionally?

Matt Tait 6 years, 10 months ago

Not at all. I'm talking emotionally. I'll rework that part.

canuckhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Matt. It is easily to misunderstand your post such that it looks like Weis has something to do with the hoax. You start with saying there has never been a reason to question his honesty. Then that he is close to Manti. Then post the clip from ND that Manti has been the victim of a hoax. I looks like you are connecting Weis's integrity to the hoax. I don't think you are intending to imply anything about Weis, but the quick of your article without reading the deadspin piece seems to make that connection.

Matt Tait 6 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the heads up. Weis has nothing to do with it. Just pointing out that he has a strong connection with Manti and his family and that something like this probably hit him hard.

I'll rework it.

Phil Leister 6 years, 10 months ago

I just read that Deadspin story and holy crap is my head spinning...

Matt Tait 6 years, 10 months ago

It's a doozy. Someone else called it mind-numbing earlier and I think that's a good description, as well.

Shawn Darius 6 years, 10 months ago

Indeed. The Deadspin story is thoroughly unbelievable...thank you for the link, Matt.

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm currently investigating if Klein and his girl kissed before they were married. Stay tuned...

Todd 6 years, 10 months ago

I seriously hope that Te'o really had nothing to do with this. As embarrassing as it is, I have been the victim of something similar. Got to know a girl in FL and when I went to visit after talking for a year there was nobody there and I was told to get lost when I returned home. So it is possible for people to be that cruel, but it would be even worse if this was some grand scheme to gain sympathy from the nation. He would've had the sympathy just from losing his grandmother. Just look at how KU Nation rallied around T-Rob.

Phil Leister 6 years, 10 months ago

He HAD to be in on it. So, you fell victim to a similar thing. But you (as far as I know) aren't a national public figure like Te'o. He can't be that dumb to maintain a relationship with someone online for a year that he's never seen. No phone calls, no skype? Give me a break! Absolutely no way he wasn't in on it. Plus, Te'o and the guy behind the fake twitters were good friends.

JayHawkFanToo 6 years, 10 months ago

They did talk on the phone...

"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."

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 10 months ago

Do you also send money to random emails from Nigerian millionaires how will send you their fortune only if you send them money first?!?!

texashawk10 6 years, 10 months ago

Are you implying that I won't be receiving my fortune next week from Prince Derp?

Brian Skelly 6 years, 10 months ago

The Deadspin piece seems well done. Great leg work by those guys. Now their sources could be lying about a lot of this, but its clear that this whole deal was never really on the up and up.

What strikes me is how stupid these folks could possibly be. What strikes me more is that either he had his parents in on it, or were bs'ing them as well the whole time. I can really get that read from the deadspin article.

It's obvious were going to know more about this than less though over the coming weeks. Weather one is a fan of the Deadspin crew or not, it appears they are on to something.

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

If you want to confer reliability on semi-anonymous internet sources, let me ask you this: Do you need to see more than their website name to surmise that none of their 'revelations' are anything more than cheap theatrics?

mphawk27 6 years, 10 months ago

To have come out with such a seemingly prepared and well thought-out statement so soon after this story broke earlier today is awfully fishy. I am not really buying any of this nonsense that the kid has nothing to do with it and had no idea whatsoever she was false is beyond me. The big kicker for me is that he claims to have talked to her every night on the phone before he went to sleep for 4 months. I'd love for somebody to pull those cell phone records and I'd bet my life savings on the fact that they do not exist. That would mean that someone behind this hoax would have found a woman willing to talk on the phone with this kid EVERY NIGHT FOR FOUR MONTHS just to set up this elaborate hoax? Even IF this mystery female hoax volunteer existed, she would have to be awfully convincing and dedicated to this cause. His story simply does not add up. The kid is a flat out, despicable liar. Worst sports scandal since Jerry Sandusky.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't believe anything. To me, he is covering up his sexual orientation. Playing football, I don't blame him, but this is not how to do it.

Sparko 6 years, 10 months ago

Man--he is just piling on the lies now. He is in a hole and is continuing to dig. Look at his quotes; and note they he "met" her in Hawaii on several occasions. Um yeah. I agree that this was probably some ruse to cover his sexual orientation. But it makes you angry to see the media so easily manipulated.

Phil Leister 6 years, 10 months ago

Not only is he continuing to dig the hole, the Notre Dame AD is in there shoveling feverishly with him. The press conference he just gave just says Te'o is the victim. Lots of details will emerge I'm sure, but right now, I don't see this getting any better for ND or Te'o. Let Lance be a lesson...just tell the truth from the get-go and you'll be much better off.

Jason Renfrow 6 years, 10 months ago

Ummm....Lance has raked in tens of millions of dollars keeping his lies going.....sorry to say but he is a lot better off having lied.....rather than being another among a LONG list of doping cyclist. So don't be surprised when Manti sticks to his story until after the Draft.

texashawk10 6 years, 10 months ago

How many defamation and libel suits did Lance file over the years against people who saw him use? Those people have now been proven right and Lance is going to have multiple lawsuits filed against him in the coming months and end up bankrupt in the future.

bad_dog 6 years, 10 months ago

There may not be any bones left to pick over after Floyd Landis' "Whistleblower" federal lawsuit. From what I'm hearing, the government may seek to recover damages in the 90-120 million range...

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

Sad to think that so many people will accept your definition of "better off".

Jason Wilson 6 years, 10 months ago

This is nothing but a kid getting caught up by an online predator

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

Do either of you care that projecting your cynicism as credible is as much a problem as the predators and/or sympathy hounds?

David Meredith 6 years, 10 months ago

He may have been embarrassed that it was only an online relationship... so he embelished details that they had met in person.... after he went to meet her and she was not there, he was embarrassed.

bad_dog 6 years, 10 months ago

Did he attend her fake funeral and leave plastic flowers at the grave?

ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Brian Skelly 6 years, 10 months ago

As always... the cover up is worse than the crime. What db.

Scott Smetana 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't see the big deal with this story. Must be nothing else in the news this week. Yawn.

Sf Boggsz 6 years, 10 months ago

...and Lance Armstrong must be your hero.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 years, 10 months ago

A person was created and killed off...part of a national story that brought a Heisman candidate into the lime-light...a consipiracy organized by not only the Te'o, but potentially his entire family...charitable, fund-raising organizations created under false pretences...and discrediting several news syndicates who failed to complete their due diligence; even something as simple as checking obituaries and death records....

Yeah...must not have been anything else to talk about.

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

Reuben gets my vote - media leads the pack in spreading crap for profit.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 10 months ago

I think that there's a lot more to this story, and I know that many, if not most, people will not believe Te'o when he tries to tell it.

I don't know if I believe him or not, but I do know that stranger things have happened. Just like DallasHawk said, he could have been embarrassed to have never met her in person and so he made up some stories about meeting her. And sure, most of us would have dumped a girl if she stood us up like that, but we have no idea what she could have told him as an excuse for not making it to Hawaii to meet him.

The ND spokeperson last night said that the investigators had found internet chatter from the perpetrators of the hoax and that they were jaking about how they "got him (Te'o)". They don't HAVE to show anybody the evidence, but you know that the NFL teams are going to want to see it, and if Te'o wants to clear his name then he will have to release the evidence that he was the victim and not the perpetrator himself.

At first I figured that he had to be in on it because of his friendship with Roni Tuiasasopo, but it could be that he THOUGHT he was friends with Tui, and Tui was just playing him for a fool.

We don't know any of the details yet, but can't immediately say that this was stunt by Te'o to get Heisman pub.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 years, 10 months ago

Regardless of what really happened, can we all just agree that two of the three Heisman candidates were weird dudes?

Reuben_J_Cogburn 6 years, 10 months ago

One had a hot, model girlfriend, one had a fake, dead girlfriend, and the other didn't kiss his girlfriend until their wedding....

...I think I'd choose Johnny Football out of that group.

Miles Nease 6 years, 10 months ago

Fail. "Johnny Football" has an arrest record and was involved in a racial incident. Of course, most people (voters) didn't know anything about this until after the awards ceremony. E-SEC-P-N certainly wasn't going to ask him any questions. Instead, they chose to focus on the Grape's quirky kissing behavior.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 10 months ago

I think the story is incredibly weird; however, one thing that I still don't understand is how in the world is ESPN still in the reporting business.

The reporter that did the story was on ESPN yesterday talking how he should have checked facts and should have done this and that some things sounded weird, but he didn't want to question.

I think the reporter that did the original piece should be sued, and ESPN should face penalties for publishing information without sources or information.

However, I don't expect the media to actually do anything, because heaven forbid that the media be held to some minimum standard by the media.

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

@jhawkrulz – This kind of rational discussion just doesn't have the pzazz of painting excrement on high profile faces like ND, Armstrong, Te'o ...

Geezer 6 years, 10 months ago

All that I know is that this story is far from over.

andreainkansas 6 years, 10 months ago

Gee, it would be nice if the national media frenzy about this fake dead woman would give a fraction of this amount of coverage to the actual real female Notre Dame student who DID die this fall, committing suicide after reporting being sexually assaulted by a ND football player. And it sure would be swell if Notre Dame gave an ounce of the "support" they're giving T'eo who, if "innocent" was at most the victim of a prank/scam. As for real life female students who are raped? Not so much...

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

andrea, you just have to compare how much the coffers of ND benefitted from the Te'o hype machine vs the alleged sexual assault.

Any ND official with an inclination to apply morality to either case is in a world of hurt.

The media has no interest in Truth, Justice, the American Way unless it can turn a profit.

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