When the ruse was reported by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16, the report raised the questions about whether Te’o was involved. The story about how he played inspirationally after the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother led to an outpouring of support from Notre Dame fans. It became the backdrop to the Fighting Irish’s undefeated regular season and run to the BCS championship, where they lost to Alabama.
Te’o won seven national awards for his play and was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He has denied any involvement from the beginning, and Notre Dame said an investigation of the player’s claims backed up his story.
“The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real,” Te’o told Katie Couric in an interview last week.
McGraw says “absolutely, unequivocally” Te’o had no role in creating the hoax.
Te’o said he first learned that something was amiss when Keuka called him on Dec. 6, and told him she had faked her death.
He told his parents about what had happened while home for Christmas break and called Notre Dame coaches on Dec. 26 to let them know. Notre Dame officials said that they interviewed Te’o and retained Stroz Friedberg, a New York computer forensics firm, to investigate the case. They learned on Jan. 3 that there were no records indicating Lennay Kekua existed.
McGraw said he spent hours with Tuiasosopo and his parents, saying he had a number of life experiences that “damaged this young man in some very serious ways.”
McGraw said Tuiasosopo had feelings for Te’o.
“Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love,” McGraw said.
McGraw said he asked Tuiasosopo if he is gay.
“He said, ‘Well, when you put it that way, yes.’ Then he caught himself and said, ‘I am confused,’” McGraw said.