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Michigan State 'deeply sorry' for Hitler image displayed before football game

An unnamed employee was placed on paid leave after a photo of Hitler and a reference to his birthplace were broadcast on video boards as part of a pregame quiz.
Adolf Hitler is displayed on the scoreboard at Michigan State University as part of a pregame trivia feature on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. The question was "What country was Hitler born in?"
A photo of Adolf Hitler is displayed on the scoreboard at Michigan State University as part of a pregame trivia feature on Saturday. The question was "What country was Hitler born in?"Jeff Kowalsky / Zuma / Alamy

Michigan State University apologized for images of Adolf Hitler that were displayed on the video boards at its football stadium before a game Saturday night.

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.

A photo of Hitler and the name of his birthplace, Austria, were show on video boards at Spartan Stadium as part of a pregame quiz before Michigan State was set to host No. 2 Michigan, the institution said.

Images of the video boards displaying Hitler's picture quickly circulated on social media.

University spokesperson Matt Larson said the institution was "deeply sorry" for the display. He blamed a "third-party source" for the image and said the university had severed ties with it.

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. "Before it was displayed, the video was not viewed in its entirety by anyone in athletics, exposing a failure in our process."

He apologized, vowed to do better and took responsibility.

"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."

The image of Hitler was displayed as the war between Israel and Hamas stokes fears of antisemitism around the world. Hitler’s Nazi regime killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust.