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Michigan State University apologizes for a Hitler quiz question before a football game

A general view as the sun sets during a game between the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 1, 2023 in East Lansing, Mich.
Mike Mulholland
Getty Images
A general view as the sun sets during a game between the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 1, 2023 in East Lansing, Mich.

Michigan State University is apologizing for a trivia question about Adolf Hitler that was broadcast on the video screen before the school's football game Saturday.

MSU was set to face off against Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing when the question about Hitler's birthplace appeared on the stadium screen along with a picture of Hitler.

The trivia video was taken from the YouTube page The Quiz Channel, according to The Associated Press, and channel creator Floris van Pallandt later wrote on the page that he had no idea MSU was using his quizzes.

"To be clear, I was unaware Michigan State University is using my content for stadium entertainment and this was unsolicited and unauthorised use," he wrote. "A random history trivia question in an inappropriate setting."

It's unclear how long the Hitler image remained on screen. The YouTube quiz video displays the image for about 18 seconds.

Michigan State associate athletic director Matt Larson apologized for the trivia question and said the university would "not be using the third-party source going forward and will implement stronger screening and approval procedures for all videoboard content in the future."

Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller said the video was not viewed in its entirety by anyone in the athletics department before it was played, "exposing a failure in our process. The video was not part of a sponsorship and had no affiliation with any of our corporate partners or our community."

"An initial assessment was conducted, and an involved employee has been identified and suspended with pay pending the results of an investigation," Haller added. "The investigation will determine any future appropriate actions."

Interim university President Teresa Woodruff also apologized for the incident, the AP reported, calling it "unacceptable" and vowing to "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."

The MSU Board of Trustees said it was "outraged" by the image. "The projected image was unacceptable, and as the oversight body for MSU we want to publicly apologize to everyone who was in Spartan Stadium or learned of this through other means," it wrote.

The board added that it had spoken to Woodruff and Haller to express members' "extreme disappointment" and is demanding to know how the question came to be shown and vowing to hold MSU personnel accountable.

Michigan State lost to No. 2 Michigan by a score of 49-0.

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