Notre Dame football star duped - WFLA News Channel 8

Notre Dame football star duped

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© (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) © (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Tonight a story that's swirling around the sports world has a Bay area connection.

It involves a highly regarded college football player and questions about whether he was fooled by an online hoax.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o may have been tricked into believing a woman he had a relationship online was real.

It now appears he had been duped all along.

There are local and national television crews camped out here at I-M-G where Te'o has been training ahead of the NFL draft.

Initially the media was under the impression there'd be a new conference.

But so far Te'o hasn't given his side of this story.

Te'o is sure to be among the first players picked when the N-F-L hold its draft this spring..

But right now the chessman trophy runner-up from Notre Dame is at the center of a fire storm, after it was revealed an online relationship he had with his girlfriend Lennay Kekua who died turned out to be false.

<Jack Swarbrick, /Notre Dame Athletic director said, "this was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax...perpetrated for reason we can't fully understand but had a certain cruelty at its core."

The web site, broke the story Wednesday.

U-S-F grad student Timothy Burke co-wrote the article.

Appearing on N-B-C's "Today Show" Thursday morning he was questioned about whether he thought te'o was in on the hoax.

Timothy Burke said, "playing linebacker for Notre dame requires a certain amount of smarts and it would take a clueless guy to fall for this that long, and I guess that is where my skepticism lies."

Te'o issued a statement saying in part, "he was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies."

Notre Dame conducted its own investigation with the help of a private firm and found Te'o was duped.

Jack Swarbrick, /Notre Dame athletic director added, "nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota."

On several occasions Te'o talked about his relationship with his girlfriend he never met and who was dying of leukemia.

Te'o ponce said, "I cried, I yelled, I never felt that way before six hours ago I found my grandma passed away you take the love of my life."

Now some people are wondering how it will affect his draft prospects following the revelation of the girlfriend who never existed.

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