Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that Manti Te’o first suspected that his dead girlfriend Lennay Kekua was a hoax on December 6th.On that day Te’o got a phone call from a number he believed to be Kekua’s, and a voice he believed to be Kekua’s told him she was not dead.
20 days later he told the school that thought he had been hoaxed.
But even after that December 6th call, Te’o referenced Kekua’s death in interviews.
From an interview at the Heisman ceremony on December 8th (via Awful Announcing):
Chris Fowler: There were a lot of cameras around you this year, there was so much public sharing of very private moments, which shared moment will you never forget above the others?
Manti Te’o: I think I’ll never forget the time when I found out that, you know, my girlfriend passed away and the first person to run to my aid was my defensive coordinator, Coach [Bob] Diaco, and you know he said something very profound to me, he said ‘this is where your faith is tested.’ Right after that, I ran into the players’ lounge and I got on the phone with my parents – and I opened my eyes and my head coach was sitting right there. And so, you know, there are a hundred-plus people on our team and the defensive coordinator and our head coach took time to just go get one [of those players]. You know I think that was the most meaningful to me.
“I don’t like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer.”
This looks bad for Te’o, but it’s still plausible that he didn’t know it was a hoax after that December 6th phone call.
The Notre Dame AD said there were repeated calls to Te’o’s phone from “Kekua” between December 6th and December 26th, when he was finally confident enough to come forward.
While he was freaked out by the initial call, it could have been taken several more days and bizarre phone calls to come to the realisation that it was a hoax.
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