Grand Valley State University coach suspended over Hitler comments

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ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University has suspended its newly-hired offensive coordinator for comments about Hitler made to the school’s student newspaper.

Morris Berger made the comments in an article published last week by the Grand Valley Lanthorn. According to a transcript of the interview, the reporter asked Berger about which historical figures he would like to meet. 

“This is probably not going to get a good review,” Berger began, the Lanthorn interview reads, “but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler. It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none. How he rallied a group and a following, I want to know how he did that. Bad intentions of course, but you can’t deny he wasn’t a great leader.”

Berger also said he’d like to meet President John F. Kennedy.

GVSU leaders responded immediately when reached by News 8 Monday.

“The comments made by Offensive Coordinator Morris Berger, as reported in The Lanthorn student newspaper, do not reflect the values of Grand Valley State University,” the statement read. “Berger has been suspended and the university is conducting a thorough investigation.”

Berger was named GVSU’s offensive coordinator a week ago. He most recently worked with Texas State University as the tight ends coach. 

The reaction to his comments from students on campus was harsh in most cases.

“You can’t get more offensive than that,” said Marlee Sullivan, a GVSU senior. “Fire him.”

“I don’t see why we need that on our campus,” Aunstin Balkema, another GVSU senior said. “We need to include everybody, and I don’t think bringing up that part of history is a very good idea.”

Senior Matthew Collins is part of a Jewish fraternity on campus. He said the statement Berger made was irresponsible given his position.

“There is an expectation for an offensive coordinator of such a high university to be able to understand a question and answer it in a way that doesn’t cause ripples like it has,” Collins said.

Ana Harris held a different position. The GVSU senior who is also Jewish said she felt the school overreacted in suspending the coach.

“People tend to be a little bit quick to feeling offended,” Harris said. “I can see what he means ’cause Hitler did get a whole country to follow him and believe him, very manipulative… I do think — give him a chance to explain himself, which I think he did in the comments and I think his comment is justifiable.”

Berger did not respond to requests for comment from News 8.

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