Michigan State University admitted to dropping the ball before a home game, when Adolf Hitler’s image was displayed on the jumbotron at Spartan Stadium.
The incident occurred just over an hour before kickoff between the Spartans and rival University of Michigan Wolverines.
As part of the pre-game entertainment, a trivia game was playing on the on the video scoreboard, and an image of Hitler appeared, along with a question asking fans to name the Nazi Party leader’s birthplace.
Photos of the dictator on the scoreboard quickly went viral and the university was bashed for allowing the content to broadcast, particularly during an era of shockingly rampant anti-antisemitism in the United States.
Michigan State doing a trivia question about what country Hitler was born in has to be the single worst decision in the history of scoreboards. 😳 pic.twitter.com/NGvneQtZTk
— College Sports Only (@CollegeSportsO) October 22, 2023
“Michigan State doing a trivia question about what country Hitler was born in has to be the single worst decision in the history of scoreboards,” posted X account College Sports Only.
“Who could possibly think “where was Hitler born” would be an appropriate quiz question on the Jumbotron during a football game? Very disappointed to see this from Michigan State,” Ryan Shead added.
If it wasn’t bad enough optics to ask a question about Hitler amid the escalating Israel-Gaza War, the game was the same day that a synagogue leader was murdered in Detroit.
Beloved community leader Samantha Woll was found stabbed to death in the front yard of her home in Lafayette Park on Saturday morning.
Police claim that the “incident was not motivated by antisemitism” and have a number of “people of interest” in their investigative crosshairs.
“In what world does anyone believe it would be a good idea to show a picture of Hitler on a Jumbotron,” someone tweeted in disgust.
In what world does anyone believe it would be a good idea to show a picture of Hitler on a Jumbotron? The simple fact that world events and the murder of a prominent Jewish synagogue president in Detroit should have been enough of a cue. Accident? https://t.co/oHbb6Ty8Yu
— RETIRED MASTER CHIEF⚓️ (@CMCRET) October 22, 2023
“The simple fact that world events and the murder of a prominent Jewish synagogue president in Detroit should have been enough of a cue.”
MSU athletic director Alan Haller said that the employee responsible for manning the stadium’s video boards has been suspended with pay as the school investigates the incident.
Haller also admitted that the department failed to screen the entirety of the video ahead of the game.
In almost any other job, posting a photo of Hitler in a lighthearted way would get you immediately fired. At Michigan State you get a paid vacation. Unreal. https://t.co/kuTnrpg7aQ
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) October 23, 2023
“Antisemitism must be denounced,” Haller announced in a Sunday Night apology. “The image displayed prior to Saturday night’s game is not representative of who we are and the culture we embody. Nevertheless, we must own our failures and accept responsibility.”
University spokesperson Matt Larson said the school was “deeply sorry” for displaying the image, but was quick to place blame on a “third-party source” who they have since severed ties with.
But according to that “third-party source,” a YouTube page called The Quiz Channel, the university was using the content without the channel’s permission.
“MSU’s subsequent statement appears to allude to a third-party source, which seems to suggest The Quiz Channel as that very source,” channel creator Floris van Pallandt told CNN.
“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.”
Michigan State: No way things can get any worse.
Also MSU: But what if we do some Hitler trivia?
— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) October 22, 2023
Pallandt defended including his the question in his content, which he had no idea the university was using in a “highly questionable” manner until the occurrence.
“It’s an absolutely normal trivia question, shown in an inappropriate setting,” Pallandt concluded. “Ignoring the dark facets of history is by no means the answer, on the contrary.”
This is the latest incident in a tumultuous start of the school year for MSU, which has already faced several public scandals.
The school officially terminated head coach Mel Tucker, who they hired for a 10-year, $95 million contract that they’re refusing to pay out the remaining $79 million on, due to a sexual conduct complaint filed by sexual assault awareness speaker Brenda Tracy.
No matter how your team did on the field yesterday, as long as your school didn’t have to go full Michigan State and apologize for putting a photo of Hitler on the Jumbotron, you’re a winner.
— Ben Swain (@TheBenSwain) October 22, 2023
Tracy, who was brutally sexually assaulted by four college football players in 1998 and now educates athletes about sexual violence, was working with Tucker’s team in 2022, when he made sexual comments to her during a phone call as he allegedly masturbated.
Tucker was suspended without pay in early September, and officially booted by the end of the month.
Days later, kinesiology instructor Brendan Doyle was let go from the university for past criminal behavior that a background check missed when he was hired.
Student sleuths who were alarmed by the professor’s “erratic” behavior and outbursts during class their first few classes discovered Doyle served 90 days behind bars for running a meth lab in Louisiana in 2020.
He was fired from MSU, who suffered a brutal 49-0 blowout to the Wolverines on Saturday, on October 10.