Te'o speaks with ESPN; denies being part of hoax
(Sports Network) - Manti Te'o broke his silence late Friday night and spoke with ESPN about the hoax involving a relationship he had with someone he considered to be his girlfriend.
The star Notre Dame linebacker, training in Florida for the NFL Draft, said in an off-camera interview with ESPN he had no part in the hoax and also said the perpetrator of the scheme, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, confessed to him only earlier this week.
"I wasn't part of this," Te'o was quoted as saying by ESPN. "When they hear the facts they'll know. They'll know there is no way I could be a part of this."
Te'o said he didn't know for sure that Lennay Kekua never really existed until hearing from Tuiasosopo directly this week. He did tell ESPN -- in an audio interview only -- he was guilty of embellishing parts of the story, including the part of meeting Kekua. He said the supposed relationship was purely online and over the phone, although he tried to set up meetings with her.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up lied to his father about meeting Kekua and continued to lie about that fact to the public, even after he was told of Kekua's death in September.
"I knew that -- I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone -- people find out that this girl who died, I was so invested in, I didn't meet her, as well," Te'o told ESPN. "So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away, so that people wouldn't think that I was some crazy dude."
Deadspin.com broke the story about the hoax earlier this week.
Te'o also said he was informed about the possibility of Kekua never existing on Dec. 6, when a woman called to tell him that she was playing the role of Lennay in the hoax.
Later in December, he told Notre Dame the story and the university began its own investigation.
01/19 08:19:57 ET