During a round of trivia before their home game Saturday night, Michigan State University thought it would be fun to display an image of Adolf Hitler on their huge scoreboard (see below, posted by Philip Lewis) while asking where the Nazi leader was born. But after receiving immediate online backlash, the school released a statement stating how "deeply sorry" they were for their choice in the "trivial" question.
"MSU is aware that inappropriate content by a third-party source was displayed on the video board prior to the start of tonight's football game," associate athletic director Matt Larson said, neglecting to disclose who the "third party" was. "We are deeply sorry for the content that was displayed, as this is not representative of our institutional values. MSU will not be using the third-party source going forward and will implement stronger screening and approval procedures for all videoboard content in the future."
On Sunday, interim president Teresa K. Woodruff finally chimed in, repeating how "deeply sorry" the school was, but again not disclosing who the offensive so-called "third party" was.
"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 in a statement. "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."
On Sunday evening, a university official said an unnamed employee was connected to the incident but didn't make clear whether was intentional or the result of lax oversight.
"An initial assessment was conducted, and an involved employee has been identified and suspended with pay pending the results of an investigation," Alan Haller, a Michigan State vice president and its director of athletics, said in a statement.
"The investigation will determine any future appropriate actions," he added. …
But Haller said Sunday that it was ultimately Michigan State's role to screen all images before they're displayed. …
"Michigan State Athletics is responsible for all content shown on its video boards," he said. … "Ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure all those who interact with Spartan Athletics feel safe, valued and respected," he said. "I apologize for the pain it has caused our community."
As an aside, the game ended in miserable defeat for MSU with a score of 49-0.