"There is no way I could be a part of this."
That is what Notre Dame's Manti Te'o said Friday night when he answered questions about being involved in a hoax that has captivated the sports world.
Te'o spoke exclusively to ESPN's Jeremy Schaap in Bradenton, Fla., where Te'o is training for the NFL Draft. He was accompanied by a lawyer for the interview that lasted more than two hours and was conducted without any cameras.
"When (people) hear the facts, they'll know," Te'o told Schaap. "They'll know that there is no way that I could be part of this."
The Fighting Irish linebacker told Schaap that he did not make up anything to help his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
In fact, it was only when he received a phone call on Wednesday that Te'o realized he had been duped, he said. That phone call came from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who admitted he was responsible for the hoax, and apologized.
It was also on Wednesday that deadspin.com set off shockwaves when it reported that the inspirational story of Te'o's girlfriend, who had died and became a major storyline during Notre Dame's near-perfect season and during Te'o's run toward the Heisman Trophy, was nothing but a hoax.
Some key points Te'o revealed during the interview included:
-- Te'o said the relationship with the fake girlfriend began on Facebook.
-- He said he lied to his father about meeting Kekua and embellished the relationship.
-- On several occasions when he tried to Skype or FaceTime with Kekua, the person on the other side was not visible and in what he called a "black box."
-- Te'o said he tailored his stories to make people believe they had actually met before Kekua's death from leukemia.
Schaap said Te'o and Kekua were "inseparable" by phone from April through September, and that Te'o did think it was "strange" they had never met.
Te'o was asked what he thought should happen to Tuiasosopo, the mastermind behind the hoax
"I hope he learns," Te'o told Schaap. "I hope he understands what he's done. I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns. I think embarrassment is big enough."
Te'o added that he thinks he will be OK, "as long as my family's OK, I'll be fine."