SOUTH BEND, Ind. >> Top administrators at Notre Dame decided within hours of hearing about the Manti Te’o dead girlfriend hoax that it did not involve a crime and within two days had concluded there was no NCAA violation, according to a letter sent by the university president to board of trustee members on Friday.
The Rev. John Jenkins told trustees that despite “the unrelenting scrutiny of hundreds of journalists and countless others — and repeated attempts by some to create a different impression— no facts relating to the hoax have been at odds with what Manti told us” on Dec. 27-28.
The letter was obtained Friday by the Associated Press from a university official who provided it on condition of anonymity because the private school’s internal workings are confidential.
The eight-page document, including a four-page letter from Jenkins and a four-page outline of how Notre Dame handled the hoax, is both a defense and an explanation of the school’s actions.
“We did our best to get to the truth in extraordinary circumstances, be good stewards of the interests of the university and its good name and — as we do in all things — to make the well-being of our students one of our very highest priorities,” Jenkins concluded in his letter.
Some of the timeline Notre Dame outlined is well known, including that its star linebacker disclosed the scam to his coaches the day after Christmas and it remained unknown to the public until Deadspin.com broke the story on Jan. 16, long after the Fighting Irish lost the BCS championship to Alabama on Jan. 7.
Jenkins wrote that Notre Dame officials talked in the hours after hearing from Te’o on Dec. 26 and agreed there was no indication of a crime or student conduct code violation. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick spoke with Te’o the next day, and on Dec. 28 the school concluded there were no indications of an NCAA rules violation.
The school then made moves to find out who was behind the hoax, thereby protecting Te’o and itself.