Bay Area

Manti Te’o hoax: Where was Stanford before Deadspin story broke?

The breaking news surrounding former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the alleged hoax involving a fake dead girlfriend is every bit of bizarre, troubling and uncomfortable.

In a series of developments that invoke far more questions than answers, one major question that no one seems to be mentioning remains: Where was Stanford while all of this was unfolding? 

The (very) abridged version: Te’o, a collegiate superstar, was reported to have a longstanding relationship with Lennay Kekua, an alleged Stanford student-athlete. It was a match made in heaven, and the two were apparently in love.


Photo by Jawed Karim / Wikimedia Commons

Except for the fact that she didn’t really exist. 

It got worse, and multiple reports cited that she was involved in a bad car accident and was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia. Then, at the age of 22, the girl that never was died just weeks after Te’o’s real grandmother passed away. The national media got wind of both stories, believing that tragedy had befallen the young star twice in a short span of time. Then Deadspin cleared up the whole mess by exposing the Kekua as non-existent. 

Multiple stories aired across media outlets throughout the country, but one thing was troubling. None of them were able to produce a death certificate, obituary or Social Security Administration records for Kekua. As the heart-wrenching story aired, no one seemed to think twice as the lies circulated. 

So when the news of such a national, trending story hit the Bay Area, how did everyone at Stanford, a prestigious institution, miss this? 

From the original Deadspin report: 

  • “No mention (of Kekua’s passing) in the Stanford newspaper”
  • “The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled.”
  • “The photographs identified as Kekua—in online tributes and on TV news reports—are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua. She is not a Stanford graduate”

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So much of this involves the school, and there was no clarity brought on by the multiple reports that had some mention of Palo Alto. Maybe we’ll learn more from in the coming days, but for now, it’s still a big head-scratcher that’s not getting enough run as this all plays out. 

The story keeps getting stranger, and Te’o has yet to shed more light on it. But one thing’s for certain, we would pay serious money to be a fly on the wall during his NFL combine interviews. 

Follow Sports Out West Editor Michael C. Jones on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets


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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His credits include Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report, among others.


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