SOUTH BEND, Ind. Not once but twice after discovering his supposed girlfriend of three years never even existed, Notre Dame All-American linebacker Manti Teo perpetuated the heartbreaking story about her death.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that the Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said Wednesday that he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax, that not only wasnt she dead, she wasnt real.

On Thursday, a day after Teos inspiring, playing-through-heartache story was exposed as a bizarre lie, Teo and Notre Dame faced questions from sports writers and fans about whether he really was duped, as he claimed, or whether he and the university were complicit in the hoax and misled the public, perhaps to improve his chances of winning the Heisman.

Gregg Doyel, national columnist for, was direct.

Nothing about this story has been comprehensible, or logical, and that extends to what happens next, he wrote. I cannot comprehend Manti Teo saying anything that could make me believe he was a victim.

On Wednesday, Teo and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the player was drawn into a virtual romance with a woman who used the phony name Lennay Kekua, and was fooled into believing she died of leukemia in September.

They said his only contact with the woman was via the Internet and telephone.

Teo also lost his grandmother for real the same day his girlfriend supposedly died, and his role in leading Notre Dame to its best season in decades endeared him to fans and put him at the center of college footballs best feel-good story of the year.

Among the outstanding questions Thursday: Why didnt Teo ever clarify the nature of his relationship as the story took on a life of its own?

Teos agent, Tom Condon, said the athlete had no plans to make any public statements Thursday in Bradenton, Fla., where he has been training with other NFL hopefuls.

Notre Dame said Teo found out that Kekua was not a real person through a phone call he received on Dec. 6. He told Notre Dame coaches about the situation on Dec. 26.

The APs media review turned up two instances during that gap when Teo mentioned Kekua in public.

He was in New York for the Heisman presentation on Dec. 8 and, during an interview that ran on, the website for a South Bend TV station, Teo said, I mean, I dont like cancer at all. I lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer. So Ive really tried to go to childrens hospitals and see, you know, children.

In a story that ran in the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., on Dec. 11, Teo recounted why he played a few days after he found out Kekua died in September.

She made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play, he said.