NCF Nation: Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax

Williamson: Te'o faces media at combine

February, 23, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Manti Te'o suddenly went from being one of the most celebrated college players in the country to the most scrutinized.

On Saturday, he continued to face the music regarding the bizarre saga involving a girlfriend that never existed.

In perhaps the most anticipated player news conference in NFL scouting combine history, the highly decorated Notre Dame middle linebacker answered questions from a massive media horde Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Media filled the interview area in anticipation of Te'o's session when word spread that his session would start within the hour. Several minutes later, word came out that it would be delayed for more than a couple of hours. When Te'o finally met the media Saturday, it was in front of an overflow crowd.

"It's pretty crazy," Te'o said in one of the lighter moments of his session. "I've been in front of a few cameras, but not as many as this."

Instead of talking about being a potential top-5 pick, Te'o spent his media session discussing his role in a hoax that first broke in January.

Te'o appeared at times calm and emotional, politely and patiently answering every question, nearly all of them centered on the hoax. Te'o ended his media session by thanking Notre Dame, his family and everyone who helped him cope in the past several weeks. He said he wants to focus on football from this point forward.

When Te'o took the podium he quickly said he has spoken of everything he planned to about the situation. He then talked freely about the issues.

"It's definitely embarrassing," Te'o said. "When you walk into the grocery store and you get people giving double takes and they're sitting there staring at you, it's definitely embarrassing. I guess it's part of the process, part of the journey. It's only going to make me stronger and it definitely has."

To read Bill Williamson's full story, click here.

Manti Te'o deletes Twitter account

February, 5, 2013
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Manti Te'o's Twitter account no longer exists.

The account using the handle @MTeo_5 disappeared from the social-media platform during the Super Bowl broadcast Sunday.

A source told ESPN.com that the former Notre Dame linebacker will be off Twitter for an indefinite period of time to prepare for the NFL draft. Twitter accounts that are deleted can be reactivated by that person.

To read more, click here.



Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said Friday that the athletic department had a fake online persona befriend players to teach them a lesson on the dangers of online relationships for athletes in the public eye.

Speaking at a forum in Toledo, Ohio, Brandon outlined how the athletic department used an attractive woman to befriend athletes online and then advise them on potential dangers of their interactions.

Michigan hired Florida-based 180 Communications -- a group specializing in media training, with an additional focus on social media -- for a presentation in fall 2011.

Brandon's comments aligned with those made by football coach Brady Hoke in January.

"Before (the consultant) came in, we gave him 20 Facebook accounts of guys on our team," Hoke told a large group of high school coaches in January, according to MLive.com. "He had his assistant -- she tried to talk to our guys. 'Hey, what are ya doin'?' Whatever it might be. Well, two months later we're in a team meeting and we're on the topic of what you put out there in the cyber universe ... you should have seen 115 guys when that young lady -- she was hot, now; a very, very nice-looking young lady -- when she walked into that meeting room, and the guys looking at each other.

"Because some of them didn't use their heads when communicating back and forth with that young lady."

Fake online profiles garnered media attention after it was revealed that a man posed as Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's online girlfriend. This practice of online hoaxing is popularly referred to as "catfishing," but Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf told ESPN.com that Brandon never used the word "catfishing" in his speech Friday.

For the full story from WolverineNation, click here.

Hoaxer was in love with Manti Te'o

January, 31, 2013
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A California man said he created the hoax involving former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and a fake girlfriend because he was in love with the football player.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for the "Dr. Phil Show," the first part of which aired Thursday.

The 22-year-old Tuiasosopo said he created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman whom Te'o said he fell for without ever meeting in person and later believed had died of leukemia.

Tuiasosopo said Te'o knew nothing of the hoax. "He had no involvement," Tuiasosopo said. "He did not know anything."

He also said the loyalty and support he gave Te'o was real.

To read the full story, click here.

Tuiasosopo: Te'o not involved

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
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In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw that will air Thursday, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo says the voice of Manti Te'o girlfriend Lennay Kekua was his, and that the star Notre Dame linebacker had no role in the hoax.

The first of a McGraw's two-part interview with Tuiasosopo will air Thursday on the "Dr Phil Show." McGraw appeared Wednesday morning on NBC's "Today" show, which aired two clips of the Tuiasosopo interview.

"There were many times when Manti and Lennay have broken up," Tuiasosopo said, "but something would bring them back together, whether it was something going on in his life or Lennay's life, or in this case my life."

McGraw said Tuiasosopo told him he fell deeply in love with Te'o, and that for Tuiasosopo it was a romantic relationship.

"Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love," McGraw told NBC. "I asked him straight up, 'Was this a romantic relationship with you?' And he says yes. I said, 'Are you then therefore gay?' And he said, 'When you put it that way, yes.' And then he caught himself and said, 'I am confused.' "

McGraw told NBC that Te'o "absolutely, unequivocally" wasn't involved in the hoax.

To read the full story, click here.

Brian Kelly defends Manti Te'o

January, 29, 2013
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The timeline of events that have become public in the two weeks since it was revealed that Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend never actually existed align with everything Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly knew about his star linebacker's situation.

Speaking with reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning for the first time since the Fighting Irish's Jan. 7 loss to Alabama, Kelly defended Te'o and said he did not notice a difference in the senior leading up to the Discover BCS National Championship.

"I didn't sense it, really," Kelly said. "Manti's a young man that continues to lead, and you don't really see him, because obviously he went through a tough time during the year and we didn't really see anything there that would've set off an alarm that he was under so much pressure concerning the situation. I just didn't see it as we practiced leading into the game."

Te'o, one of two captains of a defense that entered the title game as the nation's No. 1 scoring unit, missed a number of tackles in an uncharacteristic performance that saw the Crimson Tide pile up 529 yards of offense in a 42-14 win.

Kelly acknowledged Te'o wasn't at the top his game against Alabama.

"Hindsight is 20/20. I didn't think going into the game that he was affected by it. But he didn't play his best. Alabama had something to do with that as well, clearly. But I really don't know. It's a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we could make a leap that maybe it did, but I think Manti would know for sure."

To read the full story, click here.

Video: Schaap on journalists and Te'o

January, 26, 2013
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Jeremy Schaap examines how journalists accepted the Manti Te'o story without fact-checking.

Dr. Phil to interview Te'o hoaxer

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
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NEW YORK -- Dr. Phil McGraw has booked the first on-camera interview with the man who allegedly concocted the girlfriend hoax that ensnared Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o.

A "Dr. Phil Show" spokesperson confirmed Friday the interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man accused of creating an online persona of a nonexistent woman whom Te'o said he fell for without ever meeting face-to-face.

For the full story, click here.

Notre Dame defends its investigation

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Top administrators at Notre Dame decided within hours of hearing about the Manti Te'o dead girlfriend hoax that it did not involve a crime and within two days had concluded there was no NCAA violation, according to a letter sent by the university president to board of trustee members on Friday.

The Rev. John Jenkins told trustees that despite "the unrelenting scrutiny of hundreds of journalists and countless others -- and repeated attempts by some to create a different impression -- "no facts relating to the hoax have been at odds with what Manti told us" on Dec. 27-28.

The letter was obtained Friday by The Associated Press from a university official who provided it on condition of anonymity because the private school's internal workings are confidential.

The eight-page document, including a four-page letter from Jenkins and a four-page outline of how Notre Dame handled the hoax, is both a defense and an explanation of the school's actions.

"We did our best to get to the truth in extraordinary circumstances, be good stewards of the interests of the university and its good name and -- as we do in all things -- to make the well-being of our students one of our very highest priorities," Jenkins concluded in his letter.

Some of the timeline Notre Dame outlined is well known, including that its star linebacker disclosed the scam to his coaches the day after Christmas and it remained unknown to the public until Deadspin.com broke the story on Jan. 16, long after the Fighting Irish lost the BCS championship to Alabama on Jan. 7.

Jenkins wrote that Notre Dame officials talked in the hours after hearing from Te'o on Dec. 26 and agreed there was no indication of a crime or student conduct code violation. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick spoke with Te'o the next day, and on Dec. 28 the school concluded there were no indications of an NCAA rules violation, which could have put Notre Dame's 12-0 regular season in jeopardy.

The school then made moves to find out who was behind the hoax, thereby protecting Te'o and itself.

"For the first couple of days after receiving the news from Manti, there was considerable confusion and we simply did not know what there was to disclose," Jenkins wrote.

On Jan. 2, after several days of internal discussion and a week after Te'o's disclosure, Notre Dame retained Stroz Friedberg, a New York computer forensics firm to investigate the case and whether any other football players had been targeted. The firm did not return phone or email messages left Friday.

To read the full story, click here.

Manti Te'o girlfriend voice at issue

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
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Hollywood couldn't make this up. One day after a report that the voice of Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend belonged to the man who masterminded the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, another voice has emerged, that of his female cousin.

Relatives of Tino Tuiasosopo, a woman in her mid-20s who lives in Pago, Pago, American Samoa, told the New York Post that Te'o has been speaking to her.

"Tino is the girl that Manti has been talking to all these months," said a Tuiasosopo cousin, according to the Post.

To read the full story, click here.

Photo woman: Tuiasosopo confessed

January, 24, 2013
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The woman who was unknowingly the face of Lennay Kekua said the man who concocted the hoax confessed to her and said he wanted to end the ruse that snared Notre Dame star Manti Te'o many times before it unraveled.

Diane O'Meara is the woman whose pictures were used to make an online profile of Kekua, the fake person whom Te'o said he fell for without meeting in person. O'Meara said Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told her that he created the hoax and wanted to end it before Kekua "died" in September, but Te'o wanted the relationship with Kekua to continue.

O'Meara spoke with The Associated Press by phone on Thursday from New York with her attorneys in the room. O'Meara said Tuiasosopo confessed in a 45-minute phone call Jan. 14 that he'd "stalked" her Facebook profile for five years and stolen photos to create Kekua.

The 23-year-old O'Meara, of Long Beach, Calif., said when Tuiasosopo sent her a Facebook message Dec. 16, it was the first time he'd contacted her since high school.

It was also 10 days after Te'o said he received a call from the person pretending to be Kekua, saying she was alive after all.

To read the full story, click here.

Manti Te'o was talking to a man

January, 24, 2013
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The woman whose picture was used to create Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend has been identified, but the voice of the woman who had hours of late-night phone calls with the Notre Dame star linebacker has remained silent. Turns out that's because it reportedly was a man.

The lawyer for the man who has been identified as the person behind the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, told the New York Daily News that his client disguised his voice and assumed the identity of Lennay Kekua to try to develop a relationship with Te'o.

Milton Grimes said that Te'o "thought it was a female he was talking with. It was Ronaiah as Lennay."

Te'o appeared on Katie Couric's television show this week to explain his role in the hoax, and he also supplied voice mails to the program that he says are from the person who he thought was Kekua. While the quality of the recording is not great on all of the clips, the voice does sound feminine. The clips were posted earlier Thursday on Couric's website but are no longer available.

Grimes said that Tuiasosopo wasn't trying to hurt Te'o.

"This wasn't a prank to make fun," Grimes said, according to the newspaper. "It was establishing a communication with someone. ... It was a person with a troubled existence trying to reach out and communicate and have a relationship."

Grimes wouldn't characterize the type of relationship Tuiasosopo wanted with the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

"I wouldn't describe his issues at this time," he said to the Daily News.

To read the full story, click here.

Maisel: Manti Te'o has got goodness

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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I believe Manti Te'o.

I believe he told the truth at Notre Dame. I believe he told the truth to ESPN correspondent Jeremy Schaap.

But you'll have to forgive me. I'm a sucker for Frank Capra movies.

As the story of Te'o's mythical girlfriend unfolded last week, as the former Fighting Irish linebacker became grist for the national snark mill, I began to realize that I had seen this film before.

The fresh-faced innocent becomes a hero. He gets his comeuppance. The cynics pounce. And in the final act, the innocent triumphs. He gets the girl. The movie ends, and we all go to the malt shop.

Capra made movies before and after World War II that remain among America's best-loved films. Capra immigrated to America from Sicily as a child. He loved his adopted country and he spoke from its gut in one film after another. His main characters stood up for values that we once told ourselves are quintessentially American: humility, modesty, doing the right thing even when it bucked the system.

To read the full column, click here.

Manti Te'o: 'What would you do?'

January, 23, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, in a TV interview with Katie Couric, reiterated that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend after discovering she didn't exist, while maintaining that he had no part in creating the hoax.

The interview, which airs Thursday on Couric's syndicated television show, put Te'o and his parents in front of television cameras for the first time. Portions of the interview were broadcast Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

In the portions released, Te'o told a story similar to the one he told in an off-camera interview with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap last week -- namely, that he believes his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died of cancer in September, but he was confused by a Dec. 6 phone call in which she claimed to be alive.

Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, Te'o said that he believed Kekua had died of cancer and that he didn't lie about it until December.

"Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12," Te'o said.
To read the full story, click here.

Woman in fake photo speaks out

January, 22, 2013
1/22/13
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NEW YORK -- The woman whose photo was used as the "face" of the Twitter account of Manti Te'o's supposed girlfriend says the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.

Diane O'Meara told NBC's "Today" show Tuesday that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua. Te'o asserts he was tricked into an online romance with Kekua and, until last week, believed she died of leukemia in September.

O'Meara went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, but she says they're not close. He called to apologize Jan. 16, the day Deadspin.com broke the hoax story, she said.
To read the full Associated Press story, click here.

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