ESPN executives at the "top of the food chain" reportedly found out that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend was a hoax on January 6th, which was one day before the BCS title game between Notre Dame and Alabama the network televised.
According to a report in BigLeadSports, ESPN allegedly sat on the story because it may not have been in the network's "best interest" to report on the breaking news item before the championship game the network televised and heavily promoted.
Yesterday, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Notre Dame received the results from an independent investigative firm on January 5, which was one day before ESPN reportedly first found out about the hoax.
ESPN spokespeople told BigLeadSports they first found out about the Te'o hoax on Jan. 10, which is still nearly a week before Deadspin's report was published on Wednesday. ESPN claims they started their investigation on January 10 and was caught up on trying to verify some of the allegations about Te'o's fake girlfriend.
However, according to BigLeadSports, sources said "ESPN received the initial tip on Jan. 6th" and those at the network "began to investigate the hoax angle, but some in Bristol wondered if it would be in their best interest to air anything they had in advance of the much-anticipated" BCS championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame.