Notre Dame officials defended their handling of the Manti Te'o hoax saying "we handled it as best we could." School officials spoke with the South Bend Tribune on Saturday, offering details of how they learned of the hoax and the school's decision not to go public before the Jan. 7 BCS Championship Game. "Hindsight is 20-20," university spokesman Dennis Brown said. "Like most everybody else, except perhaps the makers of the documentary 'Catfish' and fans of that form, we were utterly stunned to hear the news on the first day and had difficult time getting our arms around it. The school thought about releasing details of the hoax, but didn't think it would be in the best interests leading up to the title game. Coach Brian Kelly first found out about the hoax the morning after Christmas when the Heisman Trophy finalist called from Hawaii. The hoax about Te'o's "dead" girlfriend became public Wednesday when it was reported by Deadspin.com. Notre Dame officials were concerned the hoax involved some sort of extortion, gambling or NCAA violations in an effort to influence the outcome of the national title game, Brown told the Tribune. In the week leading up to the title game, the university hired a private firm to investigate the hoax. The investigation focused on electronic databases to determine if Te'o' girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, actually was real. The day after arriving in Miami for the championship game, investigators told Notre Dame officials "nobody by the name Kekua appeared in any of several sophisticated databases," Brown said.
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