Two times after he supposedly discovered his online girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Te’o perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.
An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasn’t she dead, she wasn’t real.
Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon, said the athlete had no plans to make any public statements Thursday in Bradenton, Fla., where he has been training with other NFL hopefuls at the IMG Academy.
l A University of Notre Dame graduate who launched a campaign to raise money for a cancer research group in memory of linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend says he is “shell-shocked” to learn the woman didn’t exist.
Dan Tudesco, a 2006 graduate who now works in public relations in New York, set up an online account at fundraising Web site indiegogo.com on Jan. 9 to solicit $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Inc. The initial pitch said donations would go to the society in memory of Lennay Kekua, who reportedly died last fall, and in honor of Te’o, “two individuals who have been an inspiration to us through an iconic season.”
Notre Dame took notice of Tudesco’s tweets about the fund drive and sent a university videographer to shoot an interview with him. The video was posted on the Notre Dame athletics YouTube channel Tuesday.
Tudesco said “everybody is kind of surprised and a little shell-shocked right now” after Deadspin.com reported Wednesday that Kekua didn’t exist.
But he said he didn’t believe Notre Dame was aware of the hoax when it promoted his fundraiser.
• People in Laie, the small Hawaii hometown of Te’o are offering support after the story of his girlfriend and her death from leukemia were revealed as a hoax.
No one answered the door Wednesday evening and no one appeared to be inside the modest, single-story wood home of Te’o’s parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, in the small coastal town of Laie on Oahu’s northern shore where Manti Te’o, an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist, was born.
But members of the mostly Mormon community said they were dumbfounded, and didn’t believe he would have knowingly perpetrated such a story.
Many people expressed anger toward whoever was behind the entire affair.
“If he got hoaxed, that’s not his fault – shame on them,” said Makala Paakaula, a school administrator at a nearby high school, “because he has a very trusting, open heart.”
MISSISSIPPI: Laquon Treadwell, of Crete, Ill., the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 19 prospect in the ESPN 150, committed to Ole Miss on Thursday, choosing the Rebels over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“There was one school that built a great relationship with me and my mother,” he said. “This fall I will be playing my football at the University of Ole Miss.”
Treadwell had the Rebels as his leader for quite some time after previously holding Michigan in the No. 1 spot. There were even a few times throughout the process where it looked like Treadwell would pull the trigger for the Wolverines.