Michigan State issued an apology Sunday after an image of Adolf Hitler appeared on the video board at Spartan Stadium before the Spartans' 42-0 loss to No. 2 Michigan.
The image appeared as part of a trivia game being broadcast on the video board that asked Hitler's birthplace.
"I am deeply sorry for the offensive image we displayed on the Spartan Stadium video boards Saturday night," MSU vice president and director of athletics Alan Haller said in the statement. "I apologize for the pain it has caused our community. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to make sure all those who interact with Spartan Athletics feel safe, valued and respected."
Haller went on to acknowledge that the image of Hitler was especially offensive to members of the Jewish community, which is "currently experiencing a rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence."
"Michigan State Athletics is responsible for all content shown on its video boards," Haller said. "Before it was displayed, the video was not viewed in its entirety by anyone in athletics, 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."
Haller said an "involved employee" has been "identified and suspended without pay pending the results of an investigation."
The trivia package was found to be published on YouTube, and photos from the game showed the stadium was not yet full when the image was displayed over an hour before kickoff."
"MSU is aware that inappropriate content by a third-party source was displayed on the videoboard prior to the start of tonight's football game," said Matt Larson, Michigan State's associate athletic director, in a statement Saturday. "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."
Backlash has come from both the public, with demands for firings, according to The Spun, as well as from sports media members.
As reported by The Detroit News, MSU's Board of Trustees felt the athletic department’s response wasn’t enough, as it publicly pushed for more information.
"The board does not condone bigotry of any kind," its statement read. "We will take necessary steps to ensure that our athletic department and the administration live up to that expectation at all times. The board demands that MSU administrators thoroughly examine all the factors and actions that led to this incident and report back to the board and the public about how this happened and who will be held accountable."
MSU interim president Teresa Woodruff sent an email to alumni Sunday afternoon, stating, “I am deeply sorry for the image displayed at Spartan Stadium, which made many of our community feel alienated and unsafe,” Woodruff said. “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.”