What, you thought (hoped?) you’d get through another day without an update on one of the most bizarre stories the sports world has seen in recent years?
Appearing on NBC’s Today show Tuesday, the woman who served as the public “face” of Manti Te’o‘s faux girlfriend in a bizarrely elaborate hoax claimed she “never met Te’o… never spoke with… never exchanged words, tweets” with the former Notre Dame linebacker.
Diane O’Meara (pictured), who the world had previously known as Te’o’s dead girlfriend Lennay Kekua, confirmed that she went to high school with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the alleged “mastermind” behind the hoax. O’Meara claimed that Tuiasosopo had stalked her via Facebook for several years and had stolen photos of her that were ultimately used as the public face of Kekua, who Te’o had built an online relationship with and who supposedly succumbed to leukemia in September of last year.
O’Meara only learned she was a bit player in Tuiasosopo’s alleged hoax when she was contacted by writers from Deadspin.com, which broke the story earlier this month.
In the interview, O’Meara stated that “Ronny has called and not only confessed, but he has also apologized.” An apology, though, doesn’t go far enough for a woman unwittingly dragged into Tuiasosopo’s tangled web.
“I don’t think there’s anything he could say to me that would fix this,” the 23-year-old Los Angeles marketing executive said.
Tuiasosopo and his family have hinted that they could speak publicly this week for the first time, although that’s far from a certainty given the fluid nature of the situation. Te’o, who sat down for an off-camera interview late last week, is expected to have an on-camera interview with Katie Couric this week. Te’o has denied he was participant in the hoax, although he has acknowledged “catering” his stories about Kekua.
For the entire O’Meara interview, click on the video below.
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Baylor’s on-going scandal over reported sexual assaults looks like it is about to get even uglier.
Former head coach Art Briles has filed a lawsuit for libel and slander against three school regents and a vice president, according to the Associated Press, accusing them of falsely stating he knew of sexual assaults by players and didn’t report them.
Perhaps most eyebrow-raising is that the lawsuit also accuses the officials of conspiring to keep him from getting another coaching job. Briles has been connected to openings such as the one at Houston but school officials quickly denied reports that he was formally considered for the vacant head coaching spot.
Briles was fired in the spring by Baylor after an investigation from law firm Pepper Hamilton determined the school mishandled reports of alleged sexual assaults, some of which involved numerous football players. The coach denied he knew about the alleged assaults but several regents — including the three named in the recent lawsuit — told the Wall Street Journal on the record that Briles failed to report alleged assaults.
While the football team may be looking to move on from all of this with the recent hire of Matt Rhule as the new head coach, it appears the school itself will continue to deal with the fallout from one of the worst scandals in college football history.
College football recruiting has kicked into full gear the past few weeks and one of the more interesting decisions this month that could have a big impact on next season is finding out which school former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be playing for in 2017.
The signal-caller threw for 12 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards after taking over as the Bears starter midway through last year but he opted to transfer away from the program this summer when Art Briles was fired as the result of a sexual assault scandal at the school. While many have considered SEC schools such as Auburn, Texas A&M and Florida to be the favorites to land the coveted junior college QB, there may be another school that is in the running too: whichever program hires Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles.
“KB is my dude,” Stidham told ESPN.com. “I’m super tight with him. I still talk to him all the time. I’m still waiting to see what happens with him and where he might go and just take it into consideration.”
It remains to be seen if new head coach Matt Rhule will retain the younger Briles but it seems unlikely given the events in Waco the past six months and the school likely wanting a complete divorce from the previous regime. Kendal Briles own job prospects seem a bit unknown given everything at play but it could be an interesting combination for a head coach looking to jump start an offense.
There’s always talk of package deals in college basketball but this would be a potential one in football that may draw some interest.
And that’s the way it was, at least as it pertains to the Florida portion of Jordan Cronkrite‘s collegiate playing career.
Thursday, the Gators announced that Cronkrite has been granted permission to pursue other opportunities. The release from his scholarship will afford the running back the opportunity to transfer elsewhere.
If that elsewhere is at the FBS, the sophomore would have to sit out the 2017 season. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.
Cronkrite was a four-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 34 player at any position in the state of Florida.
As a true freshman, Cronkrite ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. This past season, he carried the ball 31 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. His 20 receptions were fourth on the Gators.