The mastermind of the girlfriend hoax involving star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has reportedly come clean.
In early December, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitted to a woman from his church that he was squarely involved in orchestrating the false reality that enveloped Te'o for three years, according to a report by ESPN's Shelley Smith on Friday:
He (Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all, he was a victim. ... The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie...He was crying, he was literally crying, he's like "I know, I know what I have to do."
It's not only Manti, but he was telling me that it's a lot of other people they had done this to.
That assertion from Smith's report was confirmed on SportsCenter later on, as reported by ESPN's Joe Schad:
Live on @sportscenter woman tells ESPNs Shelley Smith that man confessed to orchestrating Te'o hoax and that Te'o didn't know— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 18, 2013
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated provided further details on the latest development in the saga:
Another woman, who wouldn't go on camera, tells Shelly that Tuiasosopo confessed to her about Manti. "My cousins and I have been behind it."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 18, 2013
This certainly changes the storyline surrounding Te'o, who has been suspected of being in on the hoax all along and playing the role of victim in order to increase his publicity. An anonymous teammate relayed that information to ESPN's Bob Holtzman.
In a bizarre series of twists and turns, Te'o now appears to be the true victim here.
That said, questions surrounding the relationship are still unanswered. The fact that Te'o never met his alleged girlfriend Lennay Kekua, didn't support her in person during her alleged treatments for leukemia and didn't attend her funeral certainly leave plenty of holes in the story.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick supported Te'o 100 percent in a press conference on Wednesday night, stating that the All-American learned that he had been duped on Dec. 6 and informed the team on Dec. 26.
Less than two weeks later, the Fighting Irish lost the BCS National Championship to the Alabama Crimson Tide 42-14. The stout defense that characterized their previously undefeated season crumbled, with Te'o at the heart of its struggles.
Te'o may be off the hook for the moment in terms of being viewed as a co-conspirator, but with all of the conflicting reports circulating, there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding this unprecedented controversy.