The voice on the other end of the line that spoke to former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o came from a woman. At least that’s what relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the girlfriend hoax, told the New York Post in an interview.
An attorney’s assertion a day earlier that the voice of Lennay Kekua was a man’s apparently is not true. Tuiasosopo’s family says it was a cousin, Tino Tuiasosopo.
“Tino is the girl that Manti has been talking to all these months,” one of Tuiasosopo’s cousins told the Post.
According to the newspaper, Tino Tuiasosopo lives in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and works for her father.
Apparently, it’s not the first time she has been involved in such a scheme. She reportedly had a similar long-distance phone relationship in late 2011.
After hearing Te’o’s voice mails from the girlfriend Thursday on Katie Couric’s television show, the relatives were convinced it was Tino Tuiasosopo.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that it’s Tino,” the cousin said.
Te’o told Couric that the voice didn’t sound like a man’s to him. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s lawyer, Milton Grimes, had told the Post that his client was speaking to Te’o all along. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay,” Grimes said.
A Tuiasosopo relative thinks Grimes made that claim so Tuiasosopo can “take the rap.”
“If [Ronaiah] somehow made that voice, that’s incredible, that’s an incredible talent to do that,” Te’o said. “Especially every single day.”
Te’o maintains that he had no part in the hoax and didn’t suspect he was being duped until Dec. 6.
According to a spokesperson for the ‘‘Dr. Phil Show,’’ Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has been booked for an on-camera interview with the show’s host, Dr. Phil McGraw. An air date has not been announced.
Meanwhile, top administrators at Notre Dame decided within hours of hearing about the hoax that it did not involve a crime and within two days had concluded there was no NCAA violation, according to a letter sent by university president Rev. John Jenkins to board of trustee members Friday.
Jenkins told trustees that despite ‘‘the unrelenting scrutiny of hundreds of journalists and countless others — and repeated attempts by some to create a different impression— no facts relating to the hoax have been at odds with what Manti told us’’ on Dec. 27-28.
The eight-page document, including a four-page letter from Jenkins and a four-page outline of how Notre Dame handled the hoax, is both a defense and an explanation of the school’s actions.
‘‘We did our best to get to the truth in extraordinary circumstances, be good stewards of the interests of the university and its good name and — as we do in all things — to make the well-being of our students one of our very highest priorities,’’ Jenkins concluded in his letter.