Te'o saga puzzles Notre Dame students

Many choosing to withhold judgment.

South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND - Groups of students stood in front of the televisions at LaFortune Student Center, riveted by a press conference held by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick on Wednesday evening as he detailed a story many said left them stunned and unsure what to think.

The saga of the Manti Te'o hoax took so many bizarre turns since Deadspin broke the story earlier Wednesday that many students said they are reserving judgment until they learn more and hear from Te'o himself.

Yet many students said despite some seemingly preposterous developments, their gut feeling is that Te'o is still their guy.

"I honestly dont know what my reaction is," sophomore Caitlyn O'Malley said. "It's hard to believe."

O'Malley sat with a group dressed casually in Notre Dame garb studying in the student center while Swarbrick spoke.

She struggled to comprehend the elaborate nature of the apparent scheme.

"Did no one think to check this out when it was her funeral?" she asked.

A senior, Caitlin Connelly said the news was hard to hear, though she said still, "Manti is still a great guy."

Regina Mauck, a junior at Saint Mary's College, said she saw the first dispatches of the story on Facebook, and then her Twitter feed exploded with the story.

"I don't know what to think. It's all up in the air with me," Mauck said.

She and a friend were hanging out in LaFortune when the press conference came on. They stayed and watched the whole event.

"Everybody just feels bad," Mauck said, referring to both Te'o and the general situation.

After Swarbrick completed the press conference, students inevitably returned to their nightly load of studying, though the names Te'o, Swarbrick and Lennay Kekua could be overheard above the hum of conversation.

A group studying in the basement of LaFortune discussed the news enthusiastically.

Referencing Catfish, the same MTV show Swarbrick discussed, Saint Mary's freshman Andrea Canacci said she was not as surprised as some when she heard the news because of similar elaborate hoaxes displayed on the television.

Her friend, Notre Dame freshman Garrett Duffy, said the skeptic in him initially thought the worst when he first heard the news, though he said he is trying to keep an open mind.

"I have to wait for all people involved to tell their side," Duffy said. "Let the dust settle before I decide," he added.

Katie DePaolo, another freshman at Saint Mary's, said her thoughts wavered as the news developed Wednesday but in the end, she felt what she saw in Te'o when he spoke about the girl and his feeling of loss at a pep rally was genuine.

"I think the emotion he showed during the season is something you can't fake," DePaolo said.

Staff writer Madeline Buckley: