The sports world was stunned yesterday (January 16th) by news that Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who had supposedly died of leukemia in September, apparently never existed, with Deadspin.com being unable to find any record of her life or death and discovering that online photos of her really were of another woman. Te'o's decision to play in a game a few days after Kekua's death, which had supposedly taken place on the same day his grandmother died, and the outpouring of support he got from his teammates and college football fans was a major storyline throughout the college football season, and Te'o went on to be a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second in the voting. Te'o and Notre Dame both released statements yesterday saying he was the victim of an online romance hoax similar to that depicted in the documentary Catfish, which spawned a current MTV show. Te'o said in a statement, "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating." In a press conference yesterday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbick said Te'o went to his coaches on December 26th and told them that three weeks earlier, he'd gotten a call from a number that he knew to be Kekua's, from a person whose voice he knew to be Kekua's, and who he'd known to be his girlfriend, who told him she wasn't dead. Swarbick said Te'o, quote, "was very unnerved by that, as you might imagine." Notre Dame started investigating, and Swarbick said he's comfortable in believing that Te'o really was the victim of a hoax, and not part of perpetrating one. But the Deadspin.com story gives convincing evidence that a male friend of Te'o's created "Lennay Kekua," and raises other questions about whether Te'o was actually involved in the hoax.