Notre Dame students stunned by college football hoax

Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:49pm EST
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By Renita D. Young

SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Reuters) - Notre Dame students on Thursday said they were eager to hear directly from football star Manti Te'o, a day after he and university officials announced Te'o had been duped into believing he had an online relationship with a woman who subsequently died of leukemia.

The dramatic story of Te'o playing through the trauma of the death of his girlfriend and grandmother became a prominent theme driving sports coverage of Notre Dame's season. His grandmother did die, but the girlfriend never existed. Notre Dame's athletic director said Te'o was the victim of a cruel hoax.

"Everyone felt something magical this season, and that added to it," Notre Dame sophomore Ted Korolyshun said of Te'o and the story of his fighting through personal losses to lead Notre Dame to victory. "It just kind of hurts to have it taken away like that."

Korolyshun, 19, said he was with his boxing club on Wednesday when the news spread across the campus.

"It just exploded immediately after everyone found out last night, and nobody really knew what to think, so it was more shock, confusion, surprise than anything," said Christian Knight, 20, a civil engineering student.

Notre Dame officials said Te'o had told them on December 26 that the All-American linebacker appeared to have been the victim of a hoax, and that he had been planning to go public with the incident soon.

But online sports blog broke the news on Wednesday that his girlfriend was fiction, and the story erupted in the online world where she was apparently created. Many expressed skepticism at Te'o's response that he was duped.

The Twitter hashtag MantiTeo had a steady stream of comments, including "My sister says her imaginary boyfriend plays for Notre Dame" and, in a possible reference to the upcoming National Football League player draft, "All I know is Manti Te'o is already an unbelievable fantasy football player."   Continued...