Morris Berger was hired just one week before his comments got him suspended

By Rachel DeSantis
January 28, 2020 02:22 PM
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Credit: GVSU Football/Instagram

A college football coach was suspended just a week into the job after he told his school’s student newspaper he’d like to dine with Adolf Hitler because he was a “great leader.”

Morris Berger was hired as the offensive coordinator coach at Grand Valley State University in Michigan on Jan. 20.

Three days later, the university’s student newspaper, the Grand Valley Lanthorn, published an interview in which Berger, who has a bachelor’s degree in history, discussed his new gig, as well as the three historical figures with whom he’d most like to have dinner.

Berger first named Hitler, former leader of the Nazi Party in Germany, and later picked former President John F. Kennedy, and Christopher Columbus, too.

“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.”

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When the reporter responded with a comment acknowledging that Hitler’s ability to “get people to rally around him” was “crazy,” Berger replied, “Yeah, that’s definitely one.”

Grand Valley State University confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement that Berger has since been suspended for his comments as the college investigates.

“The comments made by Offensive Coordinator Morris Berger, as reported in The Lanthorn student newspaper, do not reflect the values of Grand Valley State University,” the statement read. “Berger has been suspended and the university is conducting a thorough investigation.”

The suspension was coincidentally announced on Monday, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where an estimated 1.1 million people died between 1940 and 1945. The Holocaust, meanwhile, killed an estimated 6 million Jews.

Berger did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

He was previously the tight ends coach at Texas State University, and before that worked at Oklahoma State University from 2017-’18.