In the wake of Deadspin's report on Manti Te'o's "fake" girlfriend and that her death never really took place at all, the University of Notre Dame has responded with a press conference on Wednesday evening.
From MTV references to tears, this one had it all—much like the current reports on the elaborate schemes behind the Te'o girlfriend hoax.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick held court and took questions from a media panel while explaining both the university's role in this case and how Te'o was a victim of this hoax—not a participant.
The university has pledged its full support of Te'o during this crisis, and Swarbrick went on to divulge more details about when the university discovered these claims of a hoax—including a phone call to Te'o himself (courtesy ESPN's Joe Schad):
Jack Swarbrick says Manti received call from familiar voice from familiar number notifying that she was not in fact dead.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 17, 2013
ESPN's Brett McMurphy tweeted this after Swarbrick pledged the full support of the Irish behind Te'o as he comes to grips with his alleged involvement in this case:
ND AD Swarbrick: "We do know: this was a very elaborate hoax that had a certain cruelty at its core. Manti is the victim of that hoax"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 17, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Lazerus supplied a quote that shed some light on these claims:
#NotreDame AD Jack Swarbrick: "Several meetings were set up where Lennay never showed, including some in Hawaii."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 17, 2013
Swarbrick also addressed the NCAA's role in this situation. It was clear that the athletic director is focused on minimizing collateral damage, and he was clear about his focus on NCAA rule violations during this scheme. As of now, the answer is no:
Swarbrick: "There's no factual predicate for an NCAA violation we can find. That of course was one of our important focuses early on."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 17, 2013
Others supplied comments as well.
CBS' Bruce Feldman noted how emotional Swarbrick became:
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick now crying on Manti Te'o presser.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 17, 2013
Chicago Tribune reporter Brian Hamilton mentioned that Notre Dame doesn't believe that Te'o is the only victim:
#NotreDame AD Jack Swarbrick: "We know these perpitrators didn't limit themselves to Manti as a target."— Brian Hamilton (@ChiTribHamilton) January 17, 2013
Lazerus made note of Swarbrick's pop-culture reference along those lines:
Swarbrick refers those who doubt Te'o to MTV show "Catfish." Said the stories follow the "same arc" as this.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 17, 2013
Lazerus reinforced the idea that Swarbrick still stands behind Te'o:
#NotreDame AD Jack Swarbrick: "Nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 17, 2013
Lazerus added to that with another of Swarbrick's sad statements:
Swarbrick: "The single-most trusting human being I've ever met will never be able to trust the same way again.That's an incredible tragedy."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 17, 2013
ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna summed things up well with this tidbit from the presser:
#NotreDame AD Jack Swarbrick: "Pains was real, grief was real, affection was real, and that's the nature of this sad, cruel game."— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) January 17, 2013
Notre Dame is not backing down from its original statement on the issue, and will apparently continue to pursue the truth in this case until a perpetrator is discovered and punished for trying to tarnish Te'o's name.
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