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Notre Dame employees not muzzled over Manti Te'o news, AD says

In a press conference Wednesday night that lasted more than 40 minutes, Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick defended Manti Te'o as the victim of a "cruel hoax" over an online girlfriend that, according to a thorough Deadspin.com report, never existed.

When reached for comment Thursday about any new developments in the Manti Te'o story, Swarbrick declined comment on specifics but did address a TMZ.com report that Notre Dame's employees were told not to speak publicly on the Te'o issue without university approval or else they would be fired.

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“That notion is ridiculous," Swarbrick said. "As a general policy, do you expect speaking out on behalf of the university? Sure. Furthermore, there's virtually no one here who would have been in a position to have any information about this."

Only Swarbrick, head coach Brian Kelly, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and a few players Te'o trusted knew about the Te'o case, Swarbrick said.

With more questions remaining, it's still unclear when or where Te'o is going to address them. He's reportedly in Bradenton, Fla., training for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Notre Dame students past and present seem shocked by the story.

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith, who played with Te'o in 2011, declined comment when reached Thursday but admitted the story is "weird."

"It's bizarre. No one knows who to believe," said Matthew Cunningham of the Leprechaun Legion, a conduit between students and the athletic department. “It's on everyone's mind. People [on campus] are just trying to understand what's going on.”

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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