Katie Couric to interview embroiled Notre Dame star Manti Te’o
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org January 20, 2013 6:58PM
In a photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview with ESPN on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. ESPN says Te'o maintains he was never involved in creating the dead girlfriend hoax. He said in the off-camera interview: "When they hear the facts they'll know. They'll know there is no way I could be a part of this." (AP Photo/ESPN Images, Ryan Jones) MANDATORY CREDIT
Updated: January 21, 2013 12:24PM
The more questions Manti Te’o answers, the more new questions arise, which may be why the Notre Dame linebacker has granted the first on-camera interview since news broke that the woman he believed to be his girlfriend did not exist.
Katie Couric’s interview with Te’o and his parents will air Thursday, although where and when the interview will take place is unknown.
Meanwhile, the person cast as the mastermind of the hoax might give his side of the story, a family member said Sunday.
Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, uncle of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, said the family plans to hold a meeting this week to determine when and how his nephew would talk about the bizarre prank.
“We want to do it right,” he said, also noting that the family has hired an attorney.
Te’o agreed to an off-camera interview with ESPN late Friday night that answered some questions about an online romance he had with a woman he never met that turned out to be a hoax. Te’o was later informed the woman had been involved in a serious automobile accident before dying of leukemia.
The late-night interview spurred still more questions and made some question the integrity of Notre Dame’s investigation of the matter.
Te’o told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that he was never questioned by the firm hired by the university to investigate the alleged hoax.
“Who questioned you?” Schaap asked Te’o, according to an edited transcript provided by ESPN.
The Heisman Trophy finalist went on to say Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco all asked him about his relationship with Lennay Kekua, who Te’o said he later learned was a fictitious character created by Tuiasosopo.
Te’o said the investigator hired by Notre Dame asked him for a photograph and any other information but did not interview him further, leading some to speculate that the university investigation was a sham, which university spokesperson Dennis Brown denies.
“Notre Dame engaged with a highly regarded investigative firm to, first and foremost, determine who had perpetrated what by all appearances was a hoax,” Brown said via e-mail in response to a Sun-Times request. ‘‘The ‘catfish’ scheme and those responsible for it were discovered so quickly that there was no need for an interview with Manti --- though that would have been the next step had nothing turned up. The investigators’ work has been verified by media reports and the confession this week of the principal participant.”
“Catfish” is a reference to someone using an online scheme to pretend to be someone he or she is not.
Te’o told ESPN that Tuiasosopo has confessed to masterminding the hoax that convinced the All-America linebacker that he was involved with the woman.
ESPN also has produced a source who claims Tuiasosopo told her that he was the person responsible for the hoax.