Monday night, after the release of statements regarding the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, Notre Dame staged a press conference with athletic director Jack Swarbrick intending to fill in some of the gaps. (Te’o will speak for himself, Swarbrick said, but hasn’t yet as of Thursday morning.) We got some answers, but many came away with even more question marks.
You can read a full transcript of the conference here, but the main thrust of Swarbrick’s remarks and answers was to shore up Notre Dame’s contention that l’affaire Lennay Kekua was a hoax from start to finish, with Te’o a victim the whole way through. Swarbrick emphatically assured his audience that he had gotten “accurate” information from Te’o, but when the questions turned to inconsistencies in the various public statements Te’o had made about Kekua, Swarbrick just as emphatically declined to answer:
Q. There were some reports earlier in the year when this was going on that Manti and Kekua had met and spent time together in Hawaii. Did he explain how those came to be?
Jack Swarbrick: He did, and, again, I’m going to let Manti tell the story because he deserves that right. What I will tell you, this was exclusively an online relationship.
And the creepiest revelation: Swarbrick said Te’o was tipped off to the scheme when he received a phone call in early December from the girl who’d been playing the part of Kekua, informing him she wasn’t dead, and that at some point, an attempt to “restart the relationship” was made.
So that’s where we are this morning. If Te’o does intend to submit to an interview today, that timing has yet to be announced. And we’re still heavier on questions than believable answers. Why was Te’o still publicly grieving over the loss of Kekua in the press after he’d been tipped off? Did Te’o lie to his father or did his father lie to the press? How does the Tuiasosopo family fit into all this?
We’re going to go back to talking about all the other hell that’s broken loose this week (remember that time Chip Kelly left Oregon? Because it was YESTERDAY), but rest assured we’ll be returning to this story probably sooner than we’d like. Additional reading material, if you’re so inclined: The bottom of this story, where Arizona Cardinal Reagan Mauia claims to have met Kekua; this series of December tweets from folks openly discussing the hoax; and GeneWoj on the uncomfortable wall he ran into trying to research Kekua’s death.