Updated: Manti Te’o admits ‘catering’ his stories about Kekua

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Two days after Deadspin reported that Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend of Notre Dame All-American Manti Te’o who supposedly passed away last September, was a hoax, Te’o broke his silence to ESPN in a two and a half hour off-camera interview.

As one would imagine, Te’o denied playing any sort of role in the hoax. Here are highlights of what ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap has reported so far:

  • Te’o says he never had any part in the hoax and never made anything up to help his Heisman candidacy. 
  • Te’o did, however, say he lied to his father about having met Kekua. Te’o confessed that he “kind of catered [his] stories” about Kekua to suggest that they had met.
  • Te’o claimed “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.” When asked who they were, Te’o replied “I don’t know. According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah’s one.”
  • Te’o says he was never asked for money, but Kekua once requested his checking account number to send him money. Te’o did not give her the number.
  • Apparently confirming a CBSSports report released earlier Friday evening, Te’o said he tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime on several occasions, but that he only saw a “black box” on the other end.
  • Te’o said that he began contact with Kekua on Facebook his freshman year. Things “got serious” on April 28, the day he was told she’d been in a car crash. The relationship is described by Te’o as being intermittent.
  • When asked why he never visited Kekua in the hospital, Te’o replied “It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school.”
  • Te’o claims he and Kekua got in an argument when she called him after his grandmother passed away. “She was saying, ‘You know, I’m trying to be here for you.’ I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was ‘Just know I love you.’ “
  • Te’o told ESPN that, until two days ago, he was not fully convinced Kekua didn’t exist. That’s when Te’o said he received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the hoax and Kekua’s cousin, according to Te’o. (A note: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in Wednesday’s press conference that Te’o was the victim of a hoax and that the university handed the information over to a PI firm that returned a report on Jan. 4.)
  • According to Te’o, a group of people related to Tuiasosopo showed up at Notre Dame’s team hotel for the BCS National championship game.
  • The first time Te’o said he met  Tuiasosopo was after Notre Dame beat USC on Nov. 24. Deadspin reported that Te’o and Tuiasosopo “definitely knew each other” but how was unclear.

There is also an interesting read from the USA Today which was published late Friday night. The paper reports that the cousin of Tuiasosopo faced many parallels in her life similar to Kekua, including a battle with leukemia.

Earlier today, “Outside the Lines” spoke with three people who believed Tuiasosopo was in fact orchestrating a hoax on Te’o, with one person claiming he confessed to the act to her in December. Later in the afternoon, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Kekua (or, a voice speaking as Kekua) told Te’o via telephone on Dec. 6 during the college football awards show that she had faked her death to hide from drug dealers.

Former WR Keith Mumphery sues Michigan State over handling of his dismissal

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Michigan State is dealing with yet another lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault but this time it has nothing to do with the growing Larry Nassar scandal at the school.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a federal lawsuit has been filed against the university by former Spartans wide receiver Keith Mumphery, alleging that he was “permanently dismissed from Michigan State based on false allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation by a female Michigan State student.”

“The disciplinary process and ultimate finding were motivated by an anti-male and anti-athlete discriminatory bias against,” the suit added.

Mumphery was a fifth round pick in 2015 by the Houston Texans but was cut by the franchise prior to the 2017 season after the Free Press published details regarding the alleged sexual assault case. It was later revealed that Mumphery was banned from going on campus in East Lansing until 2019 by the university as part of the disciplinary process, which began with the alleged incident back in March of 2015.

The Free Press notes that the female student at the center of the case has also sued Michigan State in federal court but tells a much different story than Mumphery does about the alleged incident and subsequent actions by the university.

Needless to say, it’s been a trying few months for the Spartans given all that has gone on at the school and you can now add this matter to the growing list of things that MSU will have to deal with.

Report: Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

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The bowl game named after a pirate is moving to a pirate ship. No, seriously.

In an ‘only in college football’ type of move, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy is reporting that the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is moving from St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field (home of MLB’s Rays) to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (home of the NFL’s Bucs).

The move is being framed as being a way to boost attendance for the game after several years of lackluster crowds at the rather remote baseball stadium in the Tampa area. Raymond James is no stranger to hosting bowl games, serving as the home of the Outback Bowl as well as hosting the national title game in 2017 between Clemson and Alabama.

The Gasparilla Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN and will pit teams from the American against a squad from either the ACC or Conference USA on December 20th.

Ex-Iowa DE Romeo McKnight transfers to Illinois State

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Another former Power Five player has decided to ply his football wares at a lower level of football.

The latest to do so is Romeo McKnight, with Illinois State announcing via Twitter that defensive end will be continuing his collegiate playing career for the Redbirds. Because ISU plays at the FCS level, McKnight will be eligible to play in 2018.

Including this upcoming season, the lineman will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The announcement from ISU comes a little over a week after McKnight decided to transfer from Iowa.

McKnight was a three-star member of Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class. In large part because of a knee injury that cost him the entire 2017 season, the defensive lineman never played a down for the Hawkeyes.

Georgia, South Carolina visits in offing for Clemson transfer Josh Belk

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Another of the handful of Clemson defensive linemen who have transferred thus far this offseason could be close to finding a new home.

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Josh Belk will be visiting a pair of SEC schools this week — Georgia and South Carolina. The latter will play host to the ex-Tigers lineman on Wednesday, the former a day later on Thursday.

Belk was a four-star member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class. Because he enrolled early and attended classes, he’ll be forced to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  Beginning with the 2019 season, the South Carolina would have four years to play four seasons.

In the middle of last week, Belk announced his decision to transfer from the Tigers.

In addition to Belk, three other Tigers defensive linemen have transferred this offseason. In late January, Jabril Johnson opted to leave Clemson and ultimately ended up at West Virginia; two weeks later, Sterling Johnson took to Twitter to announce his transfer before moving on to Coastal Carolina this month. Quaven Ferguson, arrested for armed robbery in March, had announced his transfer as well prior to that off-field incident.