Notre Dame is notorious for covering up sexual assault allegations involving its football players, but the school declared star linebacker Manti Te'o a "victim" within mere hours after the news broke that his saintlike dead girlfriend never actually existed. Why is Notre Dame in such a rush to assert Te'o's victimhood while the investigation is still proceeding? Easy: because it strengthens the hero narrative the school relies on for profit and glory. Acknowledging the real victims of jock culture only hurts that narrative.
Did Te'o make up Lennay Kekua, his fake girlfriend who, he told multiple reporters, died of cancer on the same day his grandmother passed away and hours before he led his team to an epic (and selfless) victory against Michigan State last fall, or did he fall for an outlandishly cruel and convoluted internet hoax? His university claims the latter, and says Te'o is an even more inspirational hero for grappling with the soul-crushing trauma of realizing the deceased love of your life was never actually alive. Here's an official statement: