"I'm so happy that I had a chance to honor my grandma and my family and my girlfriend," Te'o said. "That's what it's all about, family."
Timothy Burke, co-author of the Deadspin article, told Miami sports radio host Dan Le Batard, "We got an e-mail last week saying something isn't right" with the girlfriend story.
Te'o said Wednesday he "developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her."
In his statement reported by ESPN, the star said, "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life."
Manti Te'o previously told reporters he and his girlfriend would spend hours speaking on the phone.
Notre Dame said it hired an independent investigative firm to look into the situation.
Swarbrick said the independent investigation found that the perpetrators were involved in "online chatter" indicating that it was a hoax, and Te'o was a victim.
"I will refer you to the documentary 'Catfish,'" the athletic director said.
"Catfish" is no longer simply a river dweller, but rather a verb defined as "to pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you," according to an MTV show of the same name.
Swarbrick said he met with Te'o's family two days before Notre Dame played in the January 7 championship game and lost to Alabama. The linebacker is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft this spring.