"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 statement reads. "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."
Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick elaborated on what the school knew in a press conference soon after.
"On the morning of December 26th, very early morning, Manti called his coaches to inform them that, while he was in attendance at the ESPN awards show in Orlando, he received a phone call from a number he recognized as having been that he associated with Lennay Kekua. When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same voice he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead," Swarbrick said. "Manti is the victim of that hoax, and he will carry that with him for a while."
In an interview Dec. 8, two days after Te'o allegedly received the phone call exposing the hoax, Te'o spoke about losing "my girlfriend" to cancer in an interview with a local television station.
The story's details have led many to believe Te'o was not a victim, but a perpetrator of the hoax. Te'o's conflicting statements seem to indicate that he stretched the truth at the very least—if there was no Kekua, whom did he speak with on the phone every night and with whom did he lock eyes after the Stanford game?
A friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person allegedly behind Kekua's online presence, told Deadspin he was "80 percent sure" that Manti Te'o was "in on it," for publicity purposes. The story also claims that friends of Tuiasosopo believe he not only created Kekua, but also that Te'o was not the only victim to be duped by her existence. Tuiasosopo's friend Reagan Maui'a, a fullback for the Arizona Cardinals, responded to the news of the Kekua hoax by saying "No, she is real."
"I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family," he told ESPN. "When she was going through the loss of her father, I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa."
Maui'a described Kekua's appearance as well.
"She was tall," he said. "Volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model."
Te'o originally agreed to an interview with ESPN on Thursday, but has since backed out, according to SB Nation.