In worsening PR crisis, Notre Dame stands by its star linebacker

A major story in Deadspin claims Manti Te’o was part of a hoax involving a fake—and dead—girlfriend. The university claims Te’o is nothing more than a victim.

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On Wednesday, sports blog Deadspin published a major story detailing how the girlfriend of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o never existed.

The university had used Te’o heartbreaking story—his grandmother and his girlfriend had reportedly died before the team’s Sept. 11 game against Michigan State—to inspire the team, and its fans.

According to Deadspin, the girlfriend who Te’o said had died of leukemia never existed. The story went viral shortly after it was published.

Notre Dame is standing by its star, saying Te’o is the victim of an online hoax.

What’s noteworthy here is how Notre Dame (and Te’o) responded—and when— considering what the university knew on Dec. 26. The Fighting Irish lost the national championship on Jan. 7.

When the story broke yesterday, Notre Dame issued the following statement:

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