The Social Media Effect: Notre Dame’s Quick Response to Manti Te’o Hoax Under Scrutiny

Welcome to the brave new world of social media and higher education

Whether Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o was Victim or Conspirator, Notre Dame officials have entered uncharted waters

By Brad Wolverton in the Chronicle of Higher Education

During a storybook season that ended in the national-championship game, it turns out that Notre Dame's star linebacker, Manti Te'o, had a girlfriend who was just a story. The university was forced to react swiftly to news of the hoax, experts said, because of the trajectory of scandal in a social-media age. (Jeff Gross, Getty Images)
During a storybook season that ended in the national-championship game, it turns out that Notre Dame’s star linebacker, Manti Te’o, had a girlfriend who was just a story. The university was forced to react swiftly to news of the hoax, experts said, because of the trajectory of scandal in a social-media age. (Jeff Gross, Getty Images)

Athletics leaders across the country raised questions on Thursday about the University of Notre Dame’s handling of a sensational story about how its star football player was mixed up in a bizarre hoax.

The story centers on Manti Te’o, a Heisman Trophy finalist and the impetus behind Notre Dame’s improbable run to the national-championship game. According to various news-media reports, Mr. Te’o played this past season under a heavy burden. In the span of six hours last September, the stories went, Mr. Te’o learned of the death of two important people in his life: his grandmother and his girlfriend.

The player’s perseverance through those losses, and his inspired play in leading the Fighting Irish to one nail-biting victory after another before losing its final game, made for the perfect fairy-tale script.

It turns out, however, that the girlfriend’s death was a fabrication… and officials from other universities are questioning Notre Dame’s full-throated support…

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See Also:
ABC News Video: Notre Dame: Football Star Manti Te’o Was ‘Catfished’ in Girlfriend Hoax
USA Today timeline of the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story