Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick believes Manti Te’o must talk.
Recording his weekly podcast, which was released Friday morning, Swarbrick reaffirmed his support for the embattled linebacker but also strongly encouraged Te’o to reveal his side of the hoax story in short order. Sources told Yahoo! Sports that Te’o had an interview in the works with ESPN on Thursday that was then scrapped.
Swarbrick would like Te’o to attempt to get in front of the Lennay Kekua controversy sooner rather than later after Notre Dame went on record Wednesday night, just hours after the story was broken by Deadspin.com.
Swarbrick said the Te’o family had initially planned to reveal the story on Jan. 21.
“I do think the ball’s in their court,” Swarbrick said. “Again, we are very much encouraging them to. We think that’s in everybody’s interest, but certainly it’s our expectation at Notre Dame that they will do that.
“We were willing to go forward and do that and answer questions from our end and offer our support. We have every expectation he will do the same.”
To this point the only word from Te’o came from a prepared statement as he continues to train for the NFL draft at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Notre Dame’s influence on Te’o is limited now that he’s departed the University and has hired agent Tom Condon of CAA for representation.
For now, Swarbrick remains in the dark about Te’o’s next move.
“I don’t have any specific knowledge of how and when, but I can’t fathom a circumstance where it doesn’t,” he said. “I sort of share everybody’s view that it has to happen.”
During the podcast, recorded Thursday, Swarbrick answered an important question about the Te’o timeline.
Swarbrick revealed on Wednesday night that Te’o received a call from a number associated with Kekua on Dec. 6 while at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. He then waited three weeks to inform Notre Dame, calling head coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on Dec. 26. Swarbrick and Te’o spoke a day later.
Swarbrick said Te’o wanted to meet with his parents over Christmas break before sharing the news with Notre Dame. Brian and Ottilla Te’o attended the awards show and were with Te’o that coming weekend at the Heisman Trophy ceremony where the linebacker again spoke about his girlfriend dying of cancer.
Swarbrick said Te’o was unsure at the time of that Dec. 6 call if he was being played.
“(He) believed it to be a prank, that someone was mimicking her voice, that was his first reaction to it,” Swarbrick said. “There was then, over the next couple of weeks, a series of back and forth, designed by him to try and figure out what was going on, asking questions that only Lennay might know the answer to, etc. He reached the conclusion that in fact she was this person who he no longer knew.”
Swarbrick said he understood the skepticism around the Te’o story and its explanation. He also encouraged people to have the same skepticism when the alleged mastermind behind the hoax, believed to be Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, Kekua, offers his story.
However, Swarbrick hopes Te’o offers his story first.
“We are certainly encouraging it to happen,” he said. “We think it’s important and would like to see it happen sooner rather than later.”