Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o (5) warms up prior to the 2013 BCS Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sun Life Stadium. (Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
The revelation that the deceased girlfriend of Manti Te'o was not only not deceased but did not even exist has left more questions than answers for the former Notre Dame linebacker. Deadspin.com's report that Lennay Kekua is not a real person prompted a strong response by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick in support of Te'o.
The school's investigation, conducted between Dec. 26 and Jan. 4 after Te'o informed officials he received a call from the woman he thought to be Kekua, depicts Te'o as the unfortunate victim of a hoax. But Deadspin's story suggests the projected first-round NFL draft pick might have had some involvement.
Which is it? Few know yet, but Swarbrick suggested that Te'o will share details of his story in the coming days. Here's what we'd like to know:
Who perpetuated stories that Te'o met Kekua in person?
A October story from the South Bend Tribune includes an anecdote from 2009 when Te'o met Kekua following a game against Stanford, where she allegedly went to school. The paper reported Wednesday that information came from Brian Te'o, Manti's father, in a taped interview in October. He also apparently told the paper that Kekua would come to see Te'o in Hawaii but that she had never met his parents.
But in Swarbrick's press conference, he explained that the relationship only occurred online and that Te'o told him the two had never met. Why did Brian Te'o share that information? Did Te'o lie to his father?
What records could Te'o provide to support the existence of the relationship? What evidence was provided to Notre Dame to support that this was a hoax?
An October cover story about Te'o in Sports Illustrated includes an anecdote of the two speaking on the phone each night and falling asleep together. If Te'o was conned and not part of the con, his phone records would show those calls existed.
Swarbrick said the school hired an investigative firm that found evidence online that several people were perpetrating this hoax. But what did Te'o provide to them? If their relationship existed online, what emails, messages, Tweets, etc., did Te'o provide to support his claim that he was a victim of this hoax?
Why not visit Kekua at any point when she was allegedly in the hospital?
Kekua was involved in a car accident around the time the couple started dating and was diagnosed with leukemia following that. If she was the love of his life, as Te'o claimed, why not go visit her? Did they communicate via Skype or FaceTime?
Why did Te'o continue to speak of her after realizing this might have been a hoax?
According to Swarbrick, Te'o received a phone call on Dec. 6 from the number he believed to be Kekua's and was greeted by a voice on the line that he believed to be hers. He thought she had died in September, and Swarbrick said he was unnerved to learn she was not.
But that revelation did not stop Te'o from speaking about her. According to Chicago Tribune reporter Brian Hamilton, two days after learning that the woman he believed to be his girlfriend was not dead, Te'o said, "I don't like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer."
What is relationship to Renaiah Tuiasosopo?
Deadspin's story paints a connection between Te'o and Tiuasosopo, a 22-year-old Californian who is alleged to be the person behind the fake identity of Kekua. Since-deleted Tweets cited in the Deadspin story suggest there is some connection between the Tiuasosopo and Te'o. What is that connection? Was he fooled by someone he knows or part of a lie that garnered him positive publicity?
USA TODAY Sports