7:10 PM EST, January 20, 2013
School gets an F
Los Angeles Times
Perhaps the saddest part of the Manti Te'o Internet fraud story is the total lack of leadership shown by the once hallowed institution of Notre Dame. While a forensic examination of Te'o's statements would likely make it clear he was not telling nothing but the whole truth, the fact that the school allowed — and even encouraged — Te'o to not come clean on the hoax and focus on the BCS title game is appalling.
Don't be persuaded by the near-teary news conference of AD Jack Swarbrick. He deserves a nomination for best supporting accomplice. Do you think that news conference would have been held if Deadpin.com had not made public these sordid details of deception?
Notre Dame failed another course in crisis management.
No one unscathed
Everyone involved in the Manti Te'o story dropped the ball — including Notre Dame.
While school officials say they didn't learn of the hoax until Dec. 26, they still should have put themselves ahead of the story rather than getting blindsided by a report from Deadspin.com. It's just common sense that Notre Dame should have pushed for transparency from Te'o and his representation — especially when Notre Dame's reputation also is on the line.
Once the school hired a firm to investigate the situation, there should have been a point where all sides involved held a news conference to discuss the situation, preferably before the BCS title game Jan. 7. Now Notre Dame and Te'o are paying the price.
With so many unanswered questions, it's difficult to draw definitive conclusions. But this much is clear: Notre Dame hasn't distinguished itself.
The school peddled Manti Te'o's story, benefiting from the heart-wrenching tale as the football program revived itself. When the hoax was revealed, Notre Dame should havegone public.
If we're to believe the timeline of events, Te'o was still telling the story after notifying the school of the hoax in late December. If true, Notre Dame and Te'o were knowingly propagating a lie.
AD Jack Swarbrick left no wiggle room in his support for Te'o, staking the school's reputation to a kid who had yet to publicly explain himself. That doesn't seem like sound and sane leadership.
Took least terrible route
According to the school's timeline, Notre Dame learned Manti Te'o may have been duped on Dec. 26 and felt certain Lennay Kekua never existed on Jan. 4. Uncorking that publicly before the BCS title game would have been like tossing a match on gasoline-soaked tires.
Notre Dame had no good options, and it probably chose the least terrible in keeping it under wraps. As for its inquiry? It reportedly amounted to a database search and unearthing of Twitter chatter by an independent investigator. No phone record checks, no email checks, no independent interviews.
The school trusted Te'o unconditionally and dangerously risked its reputation. Wasn't that the thinking that created the problem in the first place?
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun