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Notre Dame claims Te'o was victim of hoax

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FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o chases the action during the second half of an NCAA college football game against the BYU in South Bend, Ind. Alabama's Barrett Jones and Notre Dame's Te'o are All-Americans and national award winners. They're also fine students who emphasize faith and postponed big money from the NFL to stay in school.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Notre Dame officials sent out a news release Wednesday afternoon saying that star linebacker Manti Te'o had been the victim of a hoax. The person he had claimed was his girlfriend, who he said died during the season, did not exist.

Deadspin reported the hoax in an in-depth story released on the site Wednesday afternoon, which claimed that T'eo's 22-year girlfriend Lennay Kekua - who, according to reports died of leukemia during the season - never existed. Her death was alleged to have followed the death of Te'o's grandmother and was behind an inspired performance by Te'o.

The site claims that Te'o, who finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, was in on a hoax.

But Wednesday, Notre Dame claimed that Te'o and his family were victims of a hoax.

“On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.”

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