Grand Valley State offensive coordinator Morris Berger resigns after Hitler controversy

The Detroit News

Grand Valley State offensive coordinator Morris Berger resigned Thursday, days after saying in a story for the school's newspaper that Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler's ability to lead was "second to none."

The resignation is effective immediately, the university said in a statement.

Morris Berger was hired in January as Grand Valley State's new offensive coordinator.

“Over the last 11 years I have taken great pride in the responsibility and privilege of being a teacher, coach, mentor, and a valued member of the community," Berger said in the statement. "I was excited and proud to be at Grand Valley, and am disappointed that I will not get the opportunity to help these players in 2020. However, I do not want to be a distraction to these kids, this great university, or Coach (Matt) Mitchell as they begin preparations for the upcoming season.”

In a story posted Jan. 23 in the Grand Valley Lanthorn, Berger was asked if he could have dinner with three historical figures, who would they be. He listed Hitler, President John F. Kennedy and Christopher Columbus.

"This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler," Berger, who has a history degree from Drury University, said, according to The Lanthorn. "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 was suspended Monday, pending an investigation, a week after he was hired by Mitchell.

“Nothing in our background and reference checks revealed anything that would have suggested the unfortunate controversy that has unfolded," Mitchell said in the statement. "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 arrived at Grand Valley after coaching tight ends at Texas State. He also spent two seasons on staff at Oklahoma State, where he was an offensive quality control coach, and three seasons at Missouri.