"At the end of the day, this is Manti's story to tell and we believe he should have the right to tell it, which he is going to do," Swarbrick said.
Swarbrick said that Te'o and his family came to the university last month with concerns that Te'o had been the victim of a hoax.
"The university immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax," he said. "While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators."
The school's investigators monitored online chatter by the alleged perpetrators, Swarbrick said, adding that he was shocked by the "casual cruelty" it revealed.
"They enjoyed the joke," Swarbrick said, comparing the ruse to the popular film "Catfish," in which filmmakers revealed a person at the other end of an online relationship was not who she said she was.
"While we still don't know all of the dimensions of this ... there are certain things that I feel confident we do know," Swarbrick said. "The first is that this was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax, perpetrated for reasons we don't understand."
Swarbrick also said that he believed Te'o's representatives were planning to disclose the truth next week until Wednesday's story broke.
Te'o, who led the Fighting Irish to the BCS championship game this year and finished second for the Heisman Trophy, has only issued a written statement so far.
"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," Te'o said in the statement. "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."
Te'o said during the this year's football season that Kekua died of leukemia in September on the same day Te'o's grandmother died, triggering an outpouring of support for Te'o at Notre Dame and in the media.
At the time of her supposed death, Te'o said he had spoken with Kekua on the phone and text message until her death, "While my grandma passed away and you take, you know, the love of my life [Kekua]. The last thing she said to me was, 'I love you,'" Te'o said.
Deadspin reported that the image attached to Kekua's social media profiles, through which the pair interacted, was of another woman who has said she did not even know Te'o or know that her picture was being used. The website reported that it traced the profiles to a California man who is an acquaintance of Te'o and of the woman whose photo was said to be stolen.
Te'o is currently preparing for the NFL draft, according to his statement.