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Te’o mentioned ‘girlfriend’ twice recently
Te’o was in New York for the Heisman presentation on Dec. 8 and, during an interview before the ceremony that ran on the WSBT.com, the website for a South Bend TV station, Te’o said: “I mean, I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer. So I’ve really tried to go to children’s hospitals and see, you know, children.”
In a column that first ran in The Los Angeles Times, on Dec. 10, Te’o recounted why he played a few days after he found out Kekua died in September, and the day she was supposedly buried.
“She made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play,” he said on Dec. 9 while attending a ceremony in Newport Beach, Calif., for the Lott Impact Awards.
On Wednesday, when Deadspin.com broke the story, Swarbrick said Notre Dame did not go public with its findings sooner because it expected the Te’o family to come forward first.
Asked if the NCAA was monitoring the Te’o story for possible rules violations, NCAA President Mark Emmert said:
“We don’t know anything more than you do,” he told reporters at the organization’s convention in Dallas. “We’re learning about this through the stories just the same as you are. But we have to wait and see what really transpired there. It’s obviously (a) very disturbing story and it’s hard to tell where the facts lie at this point.
“But Notre Dame is obviously looking into it and there will be a lot more to come forward. Right now, it just looks … well, we don’t know what the facts are, so I shouldn’t comment beyond that.”
Reporters were turned away at the main gate of IMG’s sprawling, secure complex. Te’o remained on the grounds, said a person familiar with situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither Te’o nor IMG authorized the release of the information.
“This whole thing is so nutsy that I believe it only could have happened at Notre Dame, where mythology trumps common sense on a daily basis. … Given the choice between reality and fiction, Notre Dame always will choose fiction,” sports writer Rick Telander said in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Which brings me to what I believe is the real reason Te’o and apparently his father, at least went along with this scheme: the Heisman Trophy.
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass blasted both Te’o and Notre Dame.
“When your girlfriend dying of leukemia after suffering a car crash tells you she loves you, even if it might help you win the Heisman Trophy, you check it out,” he said.
He said the university’s failure to call a news conference and go public sooner means “Notre Dame is complicit in the lie.”
“The school fell in love with the Te’o girlfriend myth,” he wrote.
• AP sports writers Ralph Russo and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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