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Manti Te'o, Notre Dame release statements on girlfriend hoax

In September, the nation applauded Manti Te'o for playing through pain following the deaths of two loved ones. (AP)

We're posting at this hour on an offseason Wednesday for a big, strange reason: Manti Te'o's girlfriend, who reportedly died on the same week as his grandmother back in September, setting the stage for a standout performance by Te'o against Michigan State and fueling a surge of goodwill for the Fighting Irish Star -- you may remember us saying a prayer for Te'o in this space -- did not die in September. In fact, she was never alive in the first place. Go read, if you haven't. We'll wait.

Notre Dame released the following statement Wednesday evening: "On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators."

And here's Te'o himself: "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious.

"If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

These statements beget further questions. Who's behind the hoax? How does the Tuiasosopo family figure into all this? Who's really lying here? We have no idea what to think of any of this, but you'll know more when we do.

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