Jack Swarbrick Addresses The Te'o Hoax - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick met with the media on Wednesday night to discuss Manti Te'o and Lennay Kekua.
A full transcript of Swarbrick's presser is available HERE at und.com.
Swarbrick started with some opening comments followed by a question and answer session. Below are the big ticket items from Swarbrick's opening statement.
"On the morning of December 26th, very early morning, Manti called his coaches to inform them that, while he was in attendance at the ESPN awards show in Orlando, he received a phone call from a number he recognized as having been that he associated with Lennay Kekua. When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same voice he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead."
Swarbrick then went on to recount the following chain of events.
Swarbrick concluded his opening comments with the following statement.
"We left that meeting with an understanding that they would think about what they had heard, engaged Manti's future representation, which would be determined later in the week, in consultation as to how to best respond, and keep the university fully informed of their intentions and work in concert with us when they were ready to communicate the story. It was my understanding...is my understanding that they were on a timetable to release the story themselves next week when today's story broke."
The Q&A portion was long and covered many of the questions that were brought up in the comments section of Fishoutofwater's original post earlier this evening. I do suggest you read the full transcript HERE. I will hit the highlights below.
-Swarbrick gave a long answer on the several reasons that he believes Manti was not involved in the hoax but I thought this piece of his answer was the most interesting.
"Thirdly, our investigators through their work were able to discover online chatter among the perpetrators that is sort of the ultimate proof of this, the joy they were taking, the sort of casualness with which among themselves they were referring to what they had accomplished and what they had done."
If the investigators found these individuals doing this online then it is only a matter of time before the true depth of this hoax becomes public.
-On Te'o and Kekua having spent time together in Hawai'i.
"He did, and, again, I'm going to let Manti tell the story because he deserves that right. What I will tell you, this was exclusively an online relationship."
-Later in the Q&A Swarbrick came back to the subject of Te'o and Kekua meeting in person again and provided some more details.
"He used the verb "we met," and he was referring to an online meeting. He responded to an online inquiry. That was the first time he met her. And as part of the hoax, several meetings were set up where Lennay never showed, including some in Hawaii."
-Swarbrick was later asked to confirm that the first time Te'o became suspicious was when he received the phone call on December 26th.
"Well, more than suspicious, he became startled, shocked and, yes, that's right. That was absolutely the first time. Again, it goes to my comments about Manti and his character, but every single thing about this until that day in the first week of September was real to Manti. There was no suspicion that it wasn't, no belief that it might not be. And so the pain was real. The grief was real. The affection was real. And that's the nature of this sad, cruel game."
-Swarbrick on whether or not that call on December 6th was an isolated incident.
"Yes, they continued to be persistent. It wasn't a single contact."
-When did that contact stop?
"I'm sorry. I don't know exactly. It dissipated in time, in part because he wasn't responding, but I don't know exactly when."
-Swarbrick also dropped another interesting tidbit on those allegedly behind the hoax.
"We know, for example, that these perpetrators didn't limit themselves to Manti in the targets."
-Swarbrick on how Notre Dame came to the decision that they should not release the story right away.
"There was a very vigorous discussion internally about what we do. What is my obligation at this point? It was governed by a few things. One is we didn't know a lot. So until the investigators had done their work, I didn't know we were talking about a girl who faked her death, a girl who didn't exist. We just didn't have any of that information. We had no idea as to motive, and that was really significant to us." "So from the outset, we established a parameter that this was Manti's story to tell. We wanted to know it would be told. We wanted to know at the appropriate time when it would be told, but that it was his to tell."
-Why Te'o waited 3 weeks after that December 6th phone call to tell Notre Dame.
"He wanted to talk to his parents, and he wanted to talk to them in person. He went home for Christmas break. That's Manti. That's the son he is. He wanted to have that conversation with his parents face to face. He wanted to consult with them, wanted to get their advice, and it was on the basis of that conversation, after having concluded it, that he called us."
-Swarbrick went on to address whether or not he thought that the hoax affected Te'o on the field against Alabama.
"I don't want to say that. I will only tell you that starting with my interaction on the 27th and beginning today, it's affected Manti as a person significantly. There's a lot of tragedy here. There's a lot of sorrow here. But the thing I am most sad of, sad about is sorry. That the single most trusting human being I've ever met will never be able to trust in the same way again in his life. That's an incredible tragedy."
-Swarbrick on when we might hear from Te'o himself.
"I don't. I'm under the impression sometime tomorrow he will be, but I'm sorry, I don't know the details yet."
Following the Swarbrick press conference the interwebs continued to melt. Information is flowing fast and furious on every form of media that is out there. Of everything that I saw tonight two things really caught my eye. The first was this story on Arizona Cardinals fullback Reagan Mauia who claims to have met Lennay Kekua in person while doing charity work in American Samoa with Troy Polamalu and other NFL players in June 2011.
"This was before her and Manti," Mauia said Wednesday evening. "I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was -- I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa."
Mauia said Tuiasosopo -- whom Mauia believes is Kekua's cousin -- introduced the two. After the initial meeting, Mauia said he met her at an "after-party" for all of the athletes involved in the camp.
"She was tall," he said. "Volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model ... "
-Mauia went on to provide this little tidbit about Kekua's Twitter account.
Mauia said it is his understanding that Kekua's mother is operating her Twitter account. He said he'd never met her mother. When told by a reporter that she apparently might not have existed, Mauia said: "No, she is real."
-Interestingly this Tweet appeared on Kekua's Twitter account late Wednesday night.
It isn't fair to drag Reagan and Troy into this.. a lot of truths and myths need to be addressed here, and they will be at noon PST tomorrow— L K (@LennayKay) January 17, 2013
There is obviously much more to this story that we do not yet know.
I personally thought that Swarbrick handled his press conference in the best way possible. We could all sit here and debate this until the end of eternity. The truth of the matter is that this is an extremely unique scenario and I personally don't feel that it would be fair for me to judge how Swarbrick, and Notre Dame, handled this extremely bizarre, and unique situation. Especially considering the fact that this fell into their laps less than a week prior to boarding a flight to Miami for the BCS Championship Game. Simply stated there just isn't a templated "right" way to respond to something like this.
As for Manti Te'o himself he obviously has a few things to clarify regarding his relationship with Lennay Kekua, and that may happen as early as Thursday. Based on what we have seen out of Te'o over the years I expect him to be very forthcoming when he addresses this publicly.
In the coming days, weeks and months the details surrounding this hoax will continue to be revealed. With the level of attention this story now has that could happen rapidly.
In the wake of the loss to Alabama, and Coach Brian Kelly's brief flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles, this story is obviously extremely difficult to take. Over the course of the last four years Manti Te'o has personified everything that Notre Dame stands for. I feel that we owe him our continued support, and the benefit of the doubt, while this plays itself out. Was Te'o the naive victim of a cruel hoax? Did he have a part to play in all of this? We will know either way soon enough.
As we continue the conversation we should all make an effort to remain mindful of the unique sensitivities associated with this. Here I was thinking things would slow down after the BCS Championship Game....
Keep the discussion going. Just try to remain as rational as you always do.