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Grand Valley State paying $90K to football coach ousted over Hitler comments

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Grand Valley State assistant football coach who recently resigned over comments that he would've liked to dine with Adolf Hitler will receive $90,000 from the university.

Morris Berger will receive $80,000 to cover his salary and an additional $10,000 to cover lost benefits, according to a separation agreement signed Jan. 30.

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

The payment is due by Feb. 15, in a lump sum, according to the documents, provided this week to The Detroit News.

The agreement admits no fault for either of the parties, and eliminates the possibility of any legal proceedings. Berger will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. The money also wasn't paid for with any tuition or student dollars, a Grand Valley spokesperson told The News.

Berger, hired in mid-January to be offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the historically successful Division II program, made national headlines shortly thereafter with a Q&A interview with the student newspaper, the Lanthorn.

In the article, sports editor Kellen Voss asked Berger which three historical figures he'd most like to have dinner with.

Berger responded with Adolf Hitler, 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, told 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."

The quote wasn't used in the headline for the article, and was rather buried at the bottom of the story, so it took some time to even get noticed.

But when it was, the story went viral, and Berger was suspended by the university.

The Lanthorn reporter, after a conversation with a Grand Valley athletics-department spokesman, agreed to remove the quotes from the story on the Internet. When the newspaper's editor was made aware of that, the quotes were immediately restored.

Prior to his two weeks at Grand Valley, Berger coached tight ends at Texas State. He also spent two seasons at Oklahoma State and three at Missouri. Berger's coaching career began at 19, at a high school in Missouri.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984