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How well did Notre Dame handle the Manti Te'o situation?

January 18, 2013
  • Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick speaks to reporters during an news conference Wednesday regarding a hoax involving linebacker Manti Te'o.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick speaks to reporters during… (Joe Raymond / Associated…)

Manti Te'o and Notre Dame announced Wednesday that the linebacker was a victim of a hoax and that the girlfriend he thought had died in September actually never existed. The revelation came only after Deadspin.com reported as much earlier in the day.

The university said Te'o informed his coaches of the situation Dec. 26. During the gap between that date and Wednesday's announcement, the Fighting Irish played in the BCS title game and the Heisman Trophy runner-up's supposedly tragic story got plenty of coverage.

Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss how well they think Notre Dame handled the situation. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the conversation by leaving a response of your own.

John Cherwa, 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 beyond appalling.

Don’t be persuaded by the near-teary press conference of Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. He deserves a nomination for best supporting accomplice. Do you think that press conference would have been held if Deadspin.com had not made public these sordid details of deception?

We don’t know the whole story and are conflicted on if we hope Te’o is that naïve or that calculating. But what is clear is once again Notre Dame failed yet another course in crisis management.

[Updated at 11:06 a.m. Jan. 18:

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

Just about everyone involved in the Manti Te’o story dropped the ball in some way, shape or form -- 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. While there is no handbook outlining how to handle a situation like this, it’s just common sense that Notre Dame should have pushed for transparency from Te’o and his representation -- especially when you consider 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 press conference to discuss the situation, preferably before the BCS title game Jan. 7. The sooner the better, if you ask me.

Instead, they chose to wait and now Notre Dame and Te’o are paying the price.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

With so many unanswered questions, it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions from the bizarre fake-girlfriend story.

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 last fall. So when the hoax was revealed, Notre Dame immediately should have gone public to set the record straight.

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 that is in fact the truth, Notre Dame and Te’o were knowingly propagating a lie.

That makes Jack Swarbrick’s emotional press conference all the more bizarre. The athletic director left no wiggle room in his support for Te’o,  staking the school’s reputation to a kid who has yet to publicly explain himself. That doesn’t seem like sound and sane leadership. But is there anything sane about this whole thing?]

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