Irish AD to Manti Te'o: Speak out

Three days after news broke about his
fake dead girlfriend, Manti Te'o is still mum and Notre Dame has
urged the star linebacker to speak up -- and soon.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the school has encouraged
the Heisman Trophy finalist to talk publicly about a hoax that
turned the feel-good story of the college football season into one
of the most bizarre in memory.

During the taping of his weekly radio show, posted online
Friday, Swarbrick called on Te'o to explain exactly how he was
duped into an online relationship with a woman whose "death" was
faked by people behind the scam.

Skeptics have questioned statements from Te'o and Notre Dame,
wondering why the player failed to mention he never met his
girlfriend face-to-face, or tell the school about the ruse until
Dec. 26 -- nearly three weeks after officials say Te'o learned he
had been fooled.

Swarbrick believes Te'o ultimately will speak publicly.

"I don't have any specific knowledge as to how and when, but I
can't fathom a circumstance where it doesn't (happen). I sort of
share everybody's view that it has to happen," he said. "We are
certainly encouraging it to happen. We think it's important and
we'd like to see it happen sooner rather than later."

He said that before Deadspin.com broke the news about the hoax
in a lengthy report Wednesday, Te'o and his family had planned to
go public with the story Monday.

"Sometimes the best laid plans don't quite work, and this was
an example of that. Because the family lost the opportunity in some
ways to control the story," he said. "It is in the Te'o family's
court. We are very much encouraging them."

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, who mentored Michael Vick when he
returned to the NFL after doing prison time, had similar advice.

"I don't know the whole case but I always advise people to face
up to it and just talk to people and say what happened," Dungy
said while attending the NCAA convention in Dallas on Friday. "The
truth is the best liberator, so that's what I would do. And he's
going to get questioned a lot about it."

Te'o led a lightly regarded Fighting Irish team to a 12-0
regular season and the BCS title game, where they were routed 42-14
by Alabama and Te'o played poorly.

He was said to be staying at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.,
where he and about 35 other NFL draft hopefuls were invited to work
out. He has been projected to be a first-round draft pick in April,
possibly among the first 10 picks.

Several athletes at IMG tweeted on Friday that they had seen
Te'o on the sprawling campus. But he was never spotted by a group
of reporters who waited nearby for a chance to ask him a question.
His agent Tom Condon didn't return messages and the IMG Academy
didn't respond to requests for comment.

Dungy said Te'o could face the toughest questions from NFL

"If I was still coaching and we're thinking about taking this
guy in the first round, you want to know not exactly what happened
but what is going on with this young man and is it going to be a
deterrent to him surviving in the NFL and is it going to stop him
from being a star," Dungy said. "So just tell the truth about
what happened and this is why, I think, that's the best thing."

On campus, the mood was still supportive, though some students
were looking for answers, too.

"I'd like to know more, but I'd like to give him the benefit of
the doubt, that he's just being gullible," said Stephen Raab, a
chemical engineer freshman from Bloomington, Minn.

Long Tran, who roomed with Te'o in his freshman and sophomore
years, said he "wholeheartedly" believes his friend was the
victim of the hoax, not a willing participant, as was suggested in
the Deadspin report.

"Funny thing, I think he went to classes more than I did and
I'm an engineering major," Tran said. "During regular season, he
would barely go out. Most of the times, he didn't have the time to
with his training schedule. He stayed focused 100 percent. I
remember one time, a football player came into our room drunk and
was talking to Manti, asking him why he didn't go out with them.
Manti responded, 'Because we have practice tomorrow.' He was
definitely sociable. He knew most people in the dorm and everyone
knew who he was, obviously."

Tran said he knew nothing about Lennay Kekua, the online
girlfriend who supposedly died of leukemia during the season but,
it turns out, didn't even exist. Tran said Te'o wasn't particularly
tech savvy, saying the linebacker didn't own a laptop his first two
years at college.

"He was using my laptop to do his homework. If he was Skyping
his family he would use my laptop," Tran said.

Tran said Te'o kept a low profile and didn't date a lot. "Girls
would come to the room and visit him and (Notre Dame cornerback) Lo
Wood and hang out," he said. "But there was no talk of an
official girlfriend or anything."

Deadspin reported that friends and relatives of Ronaiah
Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old who lives in California, believe he
created Kekua. The website also reported Te'o and Tuiasosopo knew
each other -- which has led to questions about Te'o's involvement in
the hoax.

Swarbrick understands why there are questions.

"They have every right to say that," Swarbrick said. "Now I
have some more information than they have. But they have every
right to say that. ... I just ask those people to apply the same
skepticism to everything about this. I have no doubt the
perpetrators have a story they will yet spin about what went on
here. I hope skepticism also greets that when they're articulating
what that is."