The author of the Sports Illustrated piece, Pete Thamel, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But he said in a tweet: "The big question here is whether Te'o was involved or not. Notre Dame is staking a loud claim that he got duped and had no involvement."
On the eve of Notre Dame's national championship football game with Alabama this month, CBS picked up the story and reported that Te'o had endured "unimaginable anguish" during the football season over the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend. The network declined Wednesday to discuss its reporting, saying in a statement: "Like many other news outlets, we are now aware of the circumstances." The network said it would address the story later.
Unwittingly or not, Te'o fed the media narrative of tragedy and heartbreak, too. He repeatedly referred to Kekua's death in interviews before the championship game, saying at one point, "I appreciate all the love and support that everybody's given my family and my girlfriend's family."