(CNN) - Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o acknowledged to ABC's Katie Couric that he maintained the illusion of his dead girlfriend in the weeks after he received a call claiming that Lennay Kekua and her death were hoaxes.
It wasn't that Te'o was lying, said spokesman Mathew Hiltzik, who also reportedly represents Couric. Rather, he was still trying to determine exactly what had happened after learning a woman he thought was his girlfriend may never have existed.
During the interview, set to air on Couric's syndicated show Thursday, the Heisman Trophy runner-up said he mentioned Kekua and her death to reporters after receiving a December 6 phone call from someone he thought was Kekua, saying she was not dead.
Deadspin.com broke the story that Kekua didn't exist. The oft-irreverent sports news website has reported that a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is involved in the scam and that he created a fake Twitter account for Kekua.
This morning on "Starting Point," Soledad O'Brien interviews Diane O'Meara, the woman in the picture purporting to be Lennay Kekua, on her conversation with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo and his role in the hoax.
On Thursday, those looking for answers regarding the bizarre story surrounding Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend might finally get them. The football star and his parents will officially break their silence when a taped exclusive interview with ABC News' Katie Couric premieres concerning the hoax first brought to light by sports blog Deadspin. During the interview Te'o's father Brian stuck up for the football player saying pretty adamantly that his son is not a liar.
This morning a panel of NFL experts join “Starting Point” to weigh in on the new developments, Te’o’s career and whether or not the 21-year-old football star was actually duped.
Sports Agent Doug Eldridge says Te’o’s future is a question of performance versus perception.
“It’s a question of how is Manti going to perform on the field," Eldridge says. "This is no longer a scouting issue. It’s a personnel issue.” He adds that NFL teams need to employ their investigation units to “look behind the scenes and [see] what really went into this.” On the perception side relating to Te’o’s marketability and future endorsements Eldridge says, “It’s a question of fan perception” and how they view him and his role in the hoax.
Former Atlanta Falcons NFL Player Chris Draft says as a football player the hoax is “a huge amount of pressure for Manti but he dealt with a lot of pressure throughout the season.” He adds that while the linebacker seemed affected during the 2013 BCS Championship game against Alabama, his poor performance was not necessarily all due to the scandal. Ultimately, Draft says Te’o “has to deal with it – he has to deal with it right now.”
ESPN Senior Writer and CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson says Te’o should have dealt with the situation weeks ago. “In December it makes all the sense in the world to me. In January that makes no sense in the world to me...Why would you let a month go by before you, before the University of Notre Dame, before your father who’s teary-eyed and saying you’re not a liar – why would you let a month go by before Deadspin outed you with this story?”
Today is the day that Manti Te'o goes on camera for the very first time to tell his story. He is the Notre Dame football player whose fake girlfriend became international news. He's going to speak to ABC's Katie Couric about the controversy surrounding his internet love affair that turned out to be a big hoax. He's admitted to lying a little bit about the relationship.
This morning on "Starting Point," All State Investigation president Dawn Ricci explains why she believes Te'o's side of the story.
"We get calls every day about people who meet people online, have relationships and then it obviously turns sour because a lot of them really do," Ricci says.
Ricci says she believes Te'o 'without a doubt.'
Questions continue to swirl around what exactly happened between Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o and a woman he claims was his girlfriend.
The story went viral on Wednesday night after sports website Deadspin.com published a piece dismissing the existence of Te'o's girlfriend - the one who he said died around the same time his grandmother did, and while his team marched toward the BCS National Championship Game. Not too long after the story released, the university held a news conference saying Te'o was the victim of a "elaborate hoax." Te'o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, released a statement saying he was embarrassed that he was the victim of a "sick joke."
Yet even after the statements and a concluded investigation by Notre Dame, many still say the story does not add up. Media have been converging outside a football camp in Florida where Te'o is preparing for the NFL draft, where he is expected to sign a multi-million dollar deal.
Sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents about 170 active football players through his agency Rosenhaus Sports, shares what he would advise if he were representing Te’o.
ESPN's Mike Greenberg & fmr. football player Mark Schlereth weigh in on the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax.
What started as a story of heartbreak leading to a college football star overcoming tragedy is now being called a hoax riddled with questions.
The story which defined a college football team's season was originally about Notre Dame's star linebacker Manti Te'o, losing his grandmother and his girlfriend within 24 hours of each other and going on to lead his team to victory and an undefeated regular season. That inspiring story quickly fell apart after a report that came out Wednesday night by sports website Deadspin.com dismissing as a hoax the existence of Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kakua. This morning on "Starting Point," Deadspin.com's Timothy Burke weighs in on his report and the reactions and statements that followed.
Burke was originally tipped off by an email Deadspin received last week regarding Kakua, and says he and his colleauges started researching the story on Google. Burke says after searching for “Lennay Kakua,” they could not “find any evidence of this person that isn't attached to stories about her being Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend – she did not exist.”
Shortly after the report went viral the university held a press conference saying Te'o was the victim of a "elaborate hoax." Burke says he is not surprised and “Notre Dame has to stand by Manti Te’o. That’s what Notre Dame does.” He adds, “It would not be accepted by their community, by their boosters to throw him under the bus. They’re going to stick by him.” On the other hand, Burke says if he could have offered advice to Te’o and the university he would have told them to not respond to the report and “ignore it because anything that they say is going to be evidence to be used against him.” He says, “Either Manti or his father were lying about how he met her in the first place.”
The Deadspin report also focuses on Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who Burke describes as “a former star quarterback in high school who was supposedly offered scholarships to play in college and never did.” Burke says friends and relatives of Tuiasosopo said he was “doing the Lennay Kakua fake online profile for several years and that he’s caught other people in his trap but that they caught on way earlier than Manti Te’o did.” Burke says this information in addition to the fact that Te’o and Tuiasosopo knew each other and spent time together made him question, “how dense would Manti Te’o have to be to realize this was his friend who was behind the account the entire time?” He concludes by saying, “I don’t believe Manti Te’o could be that dumb.”