In what is being looked at as one of the strangest stories in college football in a long time, Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o is involved. Deadspin.com revealed on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, that a story about Te'o's girlfriend dying, which inspired him to play better, has turned out to be a complete and total hoax.
Deadspin says that that hoax was apparently perpetrated against the linebacker from Notre Dame. A news release issued by the university on Wednesday reported that it could find no record of Lennay Kekua's death nor her ever existing at all.
Back on Dec. 26, 2012, Notre Dame coaches were informed by both Te'o and his parents that he had been the victim of what seemed to be a hoax. Someone using a fake name "apparently ingratiated herself" with Te'o. That person is said to have then conspired with others to get Te'o to believe she died of leukemia.
Notre Dame advises that "the proper authorities" are currently investigating the situation and are calling it a "very cruel deception."
Back on Sept. 12, 2012, Te'o learned that Annette Santiago, his 72-year-old grandmother, had died. It was then that Te'o said he was told six hours later that Kekua had died after succumbing to leukemia.
This is what Te'o said back on Sept. 15, 2012, after Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 20-3:
"My family and my girlfriend's family have received so much love and support from the Notre Dame family," Te'o said. "Michigan State fans showed some love. And it goes to show that people understand that football is just a game, and it's a game that we play, and we have fun doing it But at the end of the day, what matters is the people who are around you, and family. I appreciate all the love and support that everybody's given my family and my girlfriend's family."
On Jan. 3, 2013, Te'o was asked again about his girlfriend prior to the BCS title game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. He told reporters:
"This team is very special to me, and the guys on it have always been there for me, through the good times and the bad times. I rarely have a quiet time to myself because I always have somebody calling me, asking, do you want to go to the movies? Coach is always calling me asking me, 'Are you OK? Do you need anything?'"
Pictures online that are captioned and identifying Kekua are actually of another 22-year-old woman. The woman is not named in the report, but it is believed that the photos were shared by a high school classmate of Kekua named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Notre Dame says that they believe Te'o was not involved in the hoax of Kekua. Tuiasosopo told Deadspin that he is "80 percent sure" that Te'o participated in the hoax with his mind being on the publicity it would bring.
Te'o released a statement on Wednesday afternoon stating that he met a woman online and began an emotional relationship with her, but that it ended up being "someone's sick joke and constant lies."