A friend of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, identified as the man behind the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, says he called her in early December admitting to duping the former Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman finalist, ESPN reported Friday. The friend, a woman in her mid-20s who asked not to be identified, discussed the scheme in an interview Thursday on ESPN's Outside the Lines. She said her family fears for its safety as a result of the enermous interest in the story. The woman said Tuiasosopo, in his confession to her, called the hoax on Te'o a game that he had played on others in the past. "(Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all; he was a victim," she said. "The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie. "He was crying, he was literally crying, he's like 'I know, I know what I have to do.' t's not only Manti, but he was telling me that it's a lot of other people they had done this to." Since the story became public, the woman said he urged Tuiasosopo to admit responsibility when she spoke with him Wednesday. "I am worried for him, not just him and his family but I know that you can't judge people like that and that's why I continue to just encourage (him) to come out and tell the truth," she said. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday night at a news conference that the alleged relationship with Lennay Kekua, who Ta'o had identfied as his girlfriend, occurred over the phone and on the Internet. A report by Deadspin.com, published Wednesday, indicated that no existing records for a woman by that name were found. Te'o has not publicly addressed the controversy since the Deadspin report exploded Wednesday night. On Friday, Swarbrick urged Te'o to make a public statement, ESPN reported that Te'o is doing an interview Friday night with ESPN in which the network says he will answer questions about the fake dead girlfriend hoax. Earlier, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said during the taping of his weekly radio show that Te'o has to explain exactly how he was duped into an online relation. "I share everybody's view that it has to happen. And we are certainly encouraging it to happen," Swarbrick said in a podcast. "We think it's important and we would like to see it happen sooner rather than later." Two people interviewed by Outside the Lines said a cousin was duped by Tuiasosopo with a similar online hoax in which he used a woman with the same name, Lennay Kekua. Then this fall, when J.R. Vaosa of Torrance, Calif., saw stories about Te'o and the girlfriend, whom he said had died of leukemia, he became suspicious because it sounded similar to the cousin's situation. "When I found out about the Samoan football player (and) his girlfriend, his Grandma died the same day, I was like, 'Whoa this is crazy,' I feel so bad for him, so I just looked him up," Vaosa told Outside the Lines. "I found out his girlfriend's name was Lennay Kekua. And right when I read the name Lennay Kekua, I immediately thought of Ronaiah. Then I thought of my cousin -- that this has to be the same person." Swarbrick said Te'o and his parents informed Notre Dame of the hoax on Dec. 26, several weeks after Te'o finished as the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Politics & Government