Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answers a question during NCAA college football media day, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
SOUTH BEND, IN -- A story that Notre Dame Heisman finalist Manti Te'o's girlfriend had died of leukemia turned out to be a hoax apparently perpetrated against the linebacker.
Calling it incredibly embarrassing to talk about, T'eo said in a statement today that he developed an emotional relationship with a woman he met online and maintained that relationship through computers and phones. He said it's painful and humiliating to realize he was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies.
T'eo had said during the season that the loss of his girlfriend inspired him to help lead the Irish to the BCS title game.
The university also issued a news release after Deadspin.com reported it could find no record of Lennay Kekua existing.
The university says that Notre Dame coaches were informed by Te'o and his parents on Dec. 26 that Te'o had been the victim of what appeared to be a hoax. Someone using a fictitious name "apparently ingratiated herself" with Te'o, the school said, then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had died of leukemia.
The university said "the proper authorities" are investigating a "very cruel deception."
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