Michigan State apologizes for displaying picture of Adolf Hitler on the videoboard before a football game


Michigan State University has suspended an employee and apologized for displaying a picture of Adolf Hitler on the videoboard during a trivia quiz before the school’s football game against in-state rivals the University of Michigan on Saturday.

Photos began circulating on social media before kickoff of Hitler on the videoboard at Spartan Stadium with a trivia question asking where he was born.

“MSU is aware that inappropriate content by a third-party source was displayed on the videoboard prior to the start of tonight’s football game,” Michigan State athletic director Matt Larson said in a statement. “We are deeply sorry for the content that was displayed, as this is not representative of our institutional values.”

The university will stop using the third-party source the image came from and implement stronger screening procedures for all videoboard content going forward, Larson added.

“Before it was displayed, the video was not viewed in its entirety by anyone in athletics, exposing a failure in our process,” Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller said Sunday. “The video was not part of a sponsorship and had no affiliation with any of our corporate partners or our community.”

An “involved employee” has been suspended and an investigation is underway, Haller added, without elaborating on the worker’s role.

“The image was harmful to our communities, especially our Jewish community which is currently experiencing a rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence,” Haller said, adding that he’ll be reaching out to local groups within the Jewish community and student leadership groups on campus.

In an email sent to alumni Sunday entitled, “The work we must do,” Michigan State Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff apologized for the image.

“I am deeply sorry for the image displayed at Spartan Stadium, which made many of our community feel alienated and unsafe. It was unacceptable. I asked last evening for a full review of this university event and will take all necessary steps to align our messages and actions to our values,” she said.

“I will work with our Jewish community and every member of minoritized populations to ensure Spartans feel that this is a place where everyone can live, work, go to class and attend events that are welcoming.”

The apology is part of a grim series of events for Michigan State’s football program, which lost Saturday night’s game against its rival Michigan by a 49-0 score. The university has also moved to fire head coach Mel Tucker related to accusations of sexual harassment, just two years after he signed a massive 10-year, $95 million contract.

The trivia also comes amid heightened tensions on many college campuses related to the Israel-Gaza war and amid concerns of rising antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The quiz was part of a video from a YouTube page called The Quiz Channel, the university said. Videos from the same YouTube page have been used all season before each home game, the school said.

“Prior to last night, the content has not been objectionable,” the school said. “As the statement acknowledges, we will implement stronger screening of all content to better ensure something like this never happens again.”

Floris van Pallandt, the creator of The Quiz Channel, told CNN in an email the university’s use of his channel’s content was unauthorized.

“I was completely unaware of this and only learned content created by me was being used due to this occurrence,” he wrote. “While I provide customised content packages for businesses, the utilisation of my publicly accessible YouTube content for stadium entertainment is highly questionable to say the least.”

Van Pallandt said his channel is now receiving a surge of negative feedback.

“MSU’s subsequent statement appears to allude to a third-party source, which seems to suggest The Quiz Channel as that very source. If this is accurate, that is unacceptable to me, as it is unacceptable for The Quiz Channel to bear reputational, performance, or financial repercussions due to MSU’s unsolicited use of our content,” he wrote.

Further, he defended the question about Hitler’s birthplace as legitimate, if not necessarily in that context.

“The trivia question displayed at the stadium is a legitimate one, and it’s imperative we don’t shy away from history’s more dark facets. Nonetheless, I would certainly not have chosen this particular question for a live stadium audience,” he wrote.


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