SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame says a story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend dying, which he said inspired him to play better as he helped the Fighting Irish get to the BCS title game, turned out to be a hoax apparently perpetrated against the linebacker.

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The university issued a news release Wednesday after Deadspin.com reported it could find no record of Lennay Kekua existing.

The university says that Notre Dame coaches were informed by Te’o and his parents on Dec. 26 that Te’o had been the victim of what appeared to be a hoax. Someone using a fictitious name “apparently ingratiated herself” with Te’o, the school said, then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had died of leukemia.

The university said “the proper authorities” are investigating a “very cruel deception.”

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