ESPN has denied a report that the network held off on reporting the Manti Te’o hoax in advance of the BCS title game.
The Big Lead reported Thursday that ESPN executives knew of the Te’o hoax on January 6, one day before the Alabama/Notre Dame BCS National Championship Game. After receiving word of the hoax on January 6, the report states, “some in Bristol wondered if it would be in their best interest to air anything they had in advance of the much-anticipated Title game” (The Big Lead, 1/17).
ESPN vigorously denied The Big Lead report, stating in a strongly-worded statement that the network did not receive the news about Te’o until January 10.
Deadspin reported the Te’o story on Wednesday. Throughout the 2012-13 college football season, the Notre Dame LB received substantial media attention and was the subject of multiple human interest stories after both his grandmother and girlfriend supposedly died within days of each other.
As it turns out, the girlfriend never existed. Both Te’o and Notre Dame have maintained he was the victim of a hoax.