Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is waiting along with the rest of the college football world to hear former Irish star Manti Te’o speak. It’s something that “has to happen,” Swarbrick said, and he’d like to hear it sooner rather than later.
Details about the sordid hoax involving the All-American linebacker and a fictional girlfriend that was said to have died of leukemia in September continue to trickle in from a variety of sources 48 hours after the story was initially revealed on Deadspin.com. An ESPN report Friday cited an anonymous source claiming a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitted to pulling the strings that duped Te’o. The same report found two other people that said Tuiasosopo had orchestrated a similar stunt on one of their relatives in the past using the same photos and fake name.
Skepticism still remains about Te’o’s relationship with Tuiasosopo and his role in turning the story of Kekua’s death into one that capture national headlines throughout the football season. Swarbrick said he understands the outside world’s hesitancy to accept Notre Dame’s story during a regularly scheduled podcast that was published on the Internet Friday morning.
“I don’t feel any sort of will toward that position,” he said. “If I were on the outside of this presented with the only facts I have at this point — Manti has yet to speak publicly — I think that skepticism is easy to understand.
“I just ask those people to apply the same skepticism to everything about this because I have no doubt that the perpetrators have a story they will yet spin about what went on here. And I hope skepticism also greets that when they’re articulating what that is.”
Swarbrick said his faith in Te’o came, at least in part, from facts he knew about the case that he chose not to share with the media Wednesday night. He deferred to Te’o to provide answers to some of the questions, saying it was, “Manti’s story to tell.”
He said he expects the Te’o camp to tell that story soon, but he has no direct knowledge of when, where or to whom it will be told. The university is encouraging Te’o and his family to fill in the gaps as soon as possible.
“I can’t fathom a circumstance where [he] doesn’t [speak to the media],” Swarbrick said. “I sort of share everybody’s view that it has to happen. We are certainly encouraging it to happen. We think it’s important.”
Meanwhile, puzzle pieces and background information about the alleged perpetrator filtered in Friday. ESPN’s source said Tuiasosopo called in tears and confessed that Te’o had nothing to do with the ruse, which falls in line with Notre Dame’s stance.
Thursday night Alema Te’o, who identified himself as Manti’s uncle, talked about his run-in with Tuiasosopo in an interview with Utah’s 1280 The Zone radio station. He told the radio hosts he met Tuiasosopo the week before Notre Dame played USC on Nov. 24 last fall. The alleged perpetrator said he was trying to raise money for another Stanford student diagnosed with leukemia and was hoping the Irish football star could help.
Alema Te’o’s story was the first time any potential financial-based motive for the hoax came to light. The only motive Notre Dame said it uncovered in its investigation was the joy of getting away with a cruel joke.