Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Sports

Mastermind fell for Te'o

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 08:28 PM

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo fell in love with Manti Te'o and said all his energy went into pretending to be the woman the Notre Dame linebacker came to know as Lennay Kekua.

Tuiasosopo, the 22-year-old mastermind of the elaborate hoax that embarrassed Te'o and left him looking gullible, spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for the "Dr. Phil Show," the first part of which aired Thursday.

Tuiasosopo said Te'o knew nothing of the scam, and he doesn't believe he ever suspected Kekua was fake.

"He had no involvement," Tuiasosopo said. "He did not know anything."

Tuiasosopo said he built the online persona of Kekua, a nonexistent woman whom Te'o said he fell in love with despite never meeting in person. Tuiasosopo then killed off the character in September.

"I pretty much had this escape of Lennay and this was where my heart had pretty much invested, not just time, but all of my energy went into this," Tuiasosopo said.

He said he felt Kekua was a part of him, and he developed feelings and emotions for Te'o that he could not control. He acknowledged that the hoax was cruel, but said it was never intended as a joke and that he got no financial gain from it.

"As twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah, I cared for this person," he said, referring to Te'o. "I did all that I could to help this person become a better person, even though I wasn't getting nothing out of it."

When the ruse was reported by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16, the report raised the questions about whether Te'o was in on it. The story of how Te'o played through pain after learning about the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother on the same day became the backdrop to the Fighting Irish's run to the BCS championship, where they lost to Alabama.

OREGON: Former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator.

The 38-year-old Frost was Oregon's wide receivers coach the past four seasons under coach Chip Kelly, who left the Ducks this month to become coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

KANSAS STATE: Coach Bill Snyder signed a five-year deal that includes an increase in compensation to $14.75 million over the life of the contract.

The 73-year-old coach led the Wildcats to an 11-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl berth this past season, and he was voted AP Big 12 coach of the year.

Comments