Transcript of Jack Swarbrick Press Conference
Jan. 16, 2013
John Heisler: This is John Heisler here at the University of Notre Dame. We have with us Jack Swarbrick. He's our Vice President and Director of Athletics. He's going to make opening comments. He'll be happy to take questions when he's finished with the opening statement. We'll take questions from you here in person. Just raise your hand as you would for a normal press conference, and we'll get a microphone to you. We will have a transcript of this we'll make available to you as well that will be on our website as well.
At this point, I'll turn it over to Jack Swarbrick.
Jack Swarbrick: Good evening. Thanks to all of you for joining us on relatively short notice. We're here tonight, obviously, because of an article that appeared in Dead Spin earlier today and to address the subject matter of that article.
My focus here tonight is to talk to you about what the University knew, when we knew it, and what decisions we made based on that information. Much of what drove that process and those decisions relates in part to a fundamental view of the importance of student privacy, and that will likely play a role tonight also because, at the end of the day, this is Manti's story to tell and we believe he should have the right to tell it, which he is going to do.
So there may be some questions this evening which I defer to him, but I will try to be as responsive as I possibly can to all of your questions.
While we still don't know all of the dimensions of this and other than the perpetrators, I can assure you that no one knows all of the dimensions of this there are certain things that I feel confident we do know. The first is that this was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax perpetrated for reasons we can't fully understand but had a certain cruelty at its core, based on the exchanges that we were able to see between some of the people who perpetrated it.
Manti was the victim of that hoax. Manti is the victim of that hoax, and he will carry that with him for a while.
In many ways, Manti was the perfect mark because he is a guy who is so willing to believe in others and so ready to help that, as this hoax played out in a way that called upon those tendencies of Manti and roped him more and more into the trap. He was not a person who would have a second thought about offering his assistance and help in engaging fully.
Finally and reflective of that, I want to stress, as someone who has probably been as engaged in this as anyone in the past couple of weeks, that nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota. The same great young man, great student, and great athlete that we have been so proud to have be a member of our family is the same guy tonight, unchanged in any way, except for, as he indicated in a statement in his release, the embarrassment associated with having been a victim in this case.
On the morning of December 26th, very early morning, Manti called his coaches to inform them that, while he was in attendance at the ESPN awards show in Orlando, he received a phone call from a number he recognized as having been that he associated with Lennay Kekua. When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same voice he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead.
Manti was very unnerved by that, as you might imagine. I will let him again talk about that and his reaction to it. But he maintained that secret vis a vis the members of the football family until he called the coaches on the morning of the 26th. They promptly reached out to me to inform me of this shocking piece of news, and I arranged to meet Manti upon his return to campus and did so on the afternoon of the 27th.
I met with Manti for about an hour and 45 minutes and asked him to review every detail of the relationship as he knew it with this woman. Manti did so, was forthright, answered every question, and was eager to share the information with me.
I met with him again the next day, as I had put the notes together from the previous day's meeting, to just review again what we had gone over to make sure I had all the details correct. And, again, he was a full and excellent partner in making sure that the information I collected was accurate.
I then took that information and shared it with other leaders in the university for a deliberation as to next steps, what we should do. Some additional questions of Manti were then developed, which he again promptly responded, and a decision was made to engage in an independent investigative firm to see if they could determine what was at the nature of what increasingly appeared to us to be a sophisticated hoax.
While apprised by that investigative firm of their work along the way, we received a final report from them on January 4th. I met with Brian and Ottilia Te'o in Miami on the 5th to share with them the essence of those findings. We left that meeting with an understanding that they would think about what they had heard, engaged Manti's future representation, which would be determined later in the week, in consultation as to how to best respond, and keep the university fully informed of their intentions and work in concert with us when they were ready to communicate the story.
It was my understanding...is my understanding that they were on a timetable to release the story themselves next week when today's story broke.
With that, I welcome the opportunity to take any questions.
Q. Jack, it said in the release that authorities are investigating it. Are there any...aside from the people you mentioned, anyone else investigating this to see if any criminal action was done here?
Q. You talked a little about what you talked to him about. Can you say what you've seen or what the investigator saw that would some people obviously don't know the whole story and are going to question whether Manti was behind the hoax. What have you seen that would prove that that would not be the truth?
Q. There were some reports earlier in the year when this was going on that Manti and Kekua had met and spent time together in Hawaii. Did he explain how those came to be?
Q. Do you know yet when and where he might be available to tell that, when he plans to come out and tell that story?
Q. And last one, did anybody at the school or with the football team, after Kekua's supposed death, try to reach out to her family and extend condolences in any way from the university?
Q. By your discussions with Manti, when then did they meet? How long had this been going on?
Q. I guess the reason I asked is Brian Te'o had mentioned an in person meeting to me and several in person meetings. This had been all the way back to 2009. Does your timeline go back that far, and how do you explain, again, the differences in that story with what you're characterizing as purely an online situation?
Q. And did he talk about a brother that was involved in the hoax, a supposed brother that was involved in the hoax?
Q. And the tip off in his mind was the phone call, the one that came from her number, what was her number, that was when he became suspicious and not before then?
Q. Was there...after hearing the story and knowing that somebody might, in our business might find out about it, did you encourage him and say, hey, look, we should probably be the ones to tell the story first?
Q. Not to belabor the point, but just so that I'm clear, is it your understanding then that Manti and this woman have never physically met face to face?
Q. Okay. Given your knowledge of the law, what sort of crime has been committed here, would you say, or can you say?
Q. Has there been a way for you guys, for you and the people you've been dealing with, to just comprehend what this is all about? It's bizarre.
Q. You said this is an online relationship, yet Manti has talked about speaking with a person he thought was Lennay. Did a person, in effect, take her position and talk to Manti as if she were his girlfriend?
Q. You mentioned that the perpetrators, Manti wasn't the only one he targeted. Other people at Notre Dame or other...a bigger scheme?
Q. And the Dead Spin report said that Manti had a relationship with who they thought the perpetrator was, whether it was a cousin or a family friend. Was that true, and do you know if that played into the motive at all?
Q. And then last one for me. The day of the National Championship game, when you guys had knowledge of this, there was a pregame special on the news morning show about his story. Did you guys know they were planning on doing that? Did you do anything to try to talk them out of that? Or how did you handle that situation?
Q. I think it was a CBS morning show.
Q. Did he explain at all why he waited 2 1/2, 3 weeks to tell the coaches after he had the suspicion after he got that phone call?
Q. Jack, did Manti receive any other communications following the incident at the ESPN awards show from the people involved in this?
Q. And when did that stop?
Q. And the last question for me. Does the Te'o family and Notre Dame intend to publish any part of the report, the findings in the future?
Q. Jack, you mentioned the parties being persistent with Manti. Did you get some more insight into what their motives were, and what did you discover through that continued contact?
Q. To be clear, when they tried to restart the relationship after Lennay admitted that she, in fact, had not died
Q. When you talk about the online chatter that your investigators discovered, what did you discover about the motive at that point? You mentioned sport. Was that it? Was there any other motive that came to light?
Q. And in your investigation internally, did you find that Lennay had had contact with any other members of the team? Did you speak to the members of the team about what they recalled about this conversation, or is it strictly you only talked to Manti?
Q. He was at an awards show, the one in Orlando, ESPN, right?
Q. The investigators, Notre Dame investigators, or who were these investigators?
Q. Did...just to clarify, did the team know at any point? The players are just finding out today, like anyone else?
Q. Are you able to tell us which coaches he talked to?
Q. The perpetrator, in the voice calls, you said they would sleep with the phone up to their ear and what not. Do we know where she is? I assume investigators have had to make contact with an apology forthcoming in the future. Will we ever hear from her, the one that provided the voice?
Q. And lastly, what's the university's response to, say, the 20 some year old fans who have experience with this and say, if you haven't actually met her in person, it seems slightly deceiving on his part to bring such attention to it.
Q. Jack, what did you guys advise Manti to say had he gotten a question directly after about Lennay? I know he got one question, but it was kind of within the context of another question, and he was able to avoid it. But what did you guys advise him?
Q. One more. Do you think this affected his play that night?
Q. You said several people a few times. Do you have a ballpark of just how many people?
Q. Did Notre Dame notify any law enforcement agency or the enforcement arm of the NCAA?
Q. Well, considering at the very least someone was harassing a star player for the university, and potentially there could have been an extortion component of it you said you didn't know at the beginning of it why didn't Notre Dame contact law enforcement?
Q. Was there a discussion about contacting law enforcement?
Q. Do you still think that was the right decision based on what's happened to this point?
>Q. Thank you.
Q. Hi, Jack. Sorry to have to have this press conference tonight, but at any point during any investigation, was there anything uncovered where there may be at some point any extortion or money asked from Manti or the university?
Q. Two questions actually. One, I wish I could say it, I know there have been reports that Manti said he had an initial face to face meeting with his girlfriend at Stanford at some point. What's going on with that?
Q. Okay. The other one is given that Manti thought there was an actual girlfriend and that she had died and then someone called and said that it was her, I'm still having a hard time reconciling why he wouldn't have gone to authorities when there was a possible death or there had to be some confusion as to what was going on at that point?
John Heisler: Thanks very much. We appreciate your being with us. We'll have a transcript of this that we'll make available to you within the hour. Thanks.
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