Grand Valley State offensive coordinator Morris Berger resigns amid fallout from Hitler remarks

The NCAA Division II offensive coordinator who suggested he’d like to dine with Hitler resigned on Thursday. Morris Berger, who was hired this month at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, said in a university announcement of his resignation that, “I do not want to be a distraction.” 

Berger’s remarks about Hitler came in an interview with GVSU’s student newspaper, The Lanthorn, in response to a question about which three historical figures he would choose to dine with. 

“This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler,” Berger said. “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.”

GVSU suspended Berger on Monday amid an investigation into the issue. By Thursday, GVSU coach Matt Mitchell had accepted his resignation.

“Nothing in our background and reference checks revealed anything that would have suggested the unfortunate controversy that has unfolded,” Mitchell said in the university announcement. “This has been a difficult time for everyone. I accepted Coach Berger’s resignation in an effort for him to move on and for us to focus on the team and our 2020 season.”

Berger, who previously spent time on staffs at Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas State, shared a statement on Thursday apologizing for his remarks.

“I consider it a tremendous privilege to be a GVSU Laker, and with that privilege there comes a responsibility and a standard. During a recent newspaper interview, I failed to uphold that responsibility,” Berger wrote. “In a poor effort to give and outside-the-box-answer to a question, I mistakenly communicated something absurd. There is no justifiable excuse — it was insensitive and not my intent. I failed myself, my parents, and this university — the answer I attempted to give does not align with the values instilled in me by my parents, nor represent I what I stand for or believe in — I mishandled the answer, and fell way short of the mark. 

“For the last 11 years, I worked tirelessly for each and every opportunity and was excited to be a Laker. Throughout my life, I have taken great pride in that responsibility — as a teacher, mentor, coach, role-model, and member of the community. It is my hope that you will consider accepting my apology. I recognize that I cannot undo the hurt and the embarrassment I have caused. But I can control the way I choose to positively learn from my mistake moving forward — as I work to regain the trust and respect of everyone that I have let down.”

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