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BYU football: Top prospect denies involvement in recruiting incident

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 11:13 p.m. MDT

Allegations of honor code violations during a recruiting visit at BYU a few weeks ago has caused an uproar on the local sports radio airwaves and Internet chatrooms.
Sources say an incident that took place while more than 20 recruits visited campus on Jan. 9-11 allegedly involved the drinking of alcohol — which is a violation of the school's honor code.
Monday afternoon, responding to an attempt by the Deseret News (as well as other media outlets) to ascertain more about the situation, BYU released a statement by coach Bronco Mendenhall, who is on the road recruiting.
In the brief statement, Mendenhall acknowledged that some in-house action has been taken.
"The matter has been handled internally by the football program in keeping with team rules and university standards," he said. "The appropriate lessons are being learned, and the people involved and the program are moving forward."
A sports radio report by Hans Olsen, a former BYU player who is a talk show host on 1280 AM The Zone, implicated five-star recruit Manti Te'o. Last weekend, Te'o, widely regarded as the top prep linebacker in the country, said he had narrowed his college choices to three — USC, UCLA and Notre Dame — and eliminated BYU from consideration.
According to Olsen's report, Te'o did not reject BYU, but rather, BYU rescinded its scholarship offer because of a violation of the honor code.
However, Te'o's father, Brian, contacted Monday night by the Deseret News, and Te'o himself, adamantly denied any involvement in the incident referenced by Mendenhall in his statement.
"(Manti) heard some of the rumors going around, but he wasn't involved," said Brian. "He loves Bronco. He loved the campus. Manti decided not to go to BYU based on criteria he'd set for himself."
Manti Te'o did tell his father that coaches called recruits and players into their offices the morning after the alleged incident and questioned them about some of the reports.
"He was pulled into Bronco's office," said his father. "He said, 'I didn't see anything. I don't know anything.'"
Manti told his father that while the questions were upsetting, the conversation was not confrontational.
Brian Te'o said he was surprised when his son eliminated the Cougars from his short list.
"When he did that, we were surprised," Brian said. "But we knew how difficult this decision has been. He spoke to Bronco, expressed his thanks, and from what I heard of the conversation, it seemed like a very positive conversation."
Meanwhile, the Deseret News made an inquiry Monday of the student status of two freshmen football players in the program who have been linked by sources to the alleged incident. Like at other schools, current players host recruits during recruiting visits.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the two players specified by the Deseret News are under review by the school's honor code office. However, those two players are not necessarily tied to the alleged recruiting trip incident, which is why the Deseret News has chosen to not publish their names.

Contributing: Dick Harmon. E-mail: jcall@desnews.com; adonaldson@desnews.com

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