Notre Dame found out that Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was never real on December 26th. On January 9th, two weeks after they knew about the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend hoax, someone from Notre Dame sent a videographer to shoot an interview with a man who had set up a fundraising website in memory of Kekua. Jan. 9th is also four days after the school’s private investigation revealed its findings to Te’o. From ESPN.com:
Dan Tudesco, a 2006 graduate who now works in public relations in New York, set up an online account at fundraising website indiegogo.com on Jan. 9 to solicit $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Inc. The initial pitch said donations would go to the society in memory of Lennay Kekua and in honor of Te’o, “two individuals who have been an inspiration to us through an iconic season.”
Tudesco said he and three friends got the fundraising idea after seeing a video that went viral of Te’o holding his head in dismay during the Irish’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the national championship game.
The goal was to turn the loss — and the player’s sudden popularity — into something positive.
“I think we were all kind of disappointed in the result of the game … and the Manti story was very inspirational,” Tudesco told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Notre Dame took notice of Tudesco’s tweets about the fund drive and sent a university videographer to shoot an interview with him. The video was posted on the Notre Dame athletics YouTube channel Tuesday.
Tudesco said he didn’t believe Notre Dame was aware of the hoax when it promoted his fundraiser.
“It would surprise me that Notre Dame would want to promote this if they knew something like this was going on,” Tudesco said.
However, Notre Dame officials said Wednesday that they became aware of the hoax on Dec. 26, nearly two weeks before the championship game. University spokesman Dennis Brown didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment Thursday.
So were they sticking with the hoax at that point in time, hoping it didn’t come out? Probably not. It is likely that only a handful of people at Notre Dame had a clue about the truth. It’s not like Jack Swarbrick was going to send a campus-wide e-mail telling people they should probably stop talking about the dead girlfriend story. Someone from the PR department who had no idea was probably just trying to do something good. Still though… Oops.