Morris Berger exits Grand Valley State after Adolf Hitler comments

Three days after he was suspended for expressing a desire to dine with Adolf Hitler, Morris Berger resigned as the offensive coordinator at Grand Valley State, the school announced Thursday.

Berger's resignation is effective immediately, according to the school.

"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 a 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."

Berger also tweeted an apology, writing that there was "no justifiable excuse" for what he said but that he would learn from the mistake.

In an interview last week with the Grand Valley Lanthorn, the school's student-run newspaper, Berger was asked: With which three historical figures would he want to have dinner?

"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."

His other two choices were John F. Kennedy and Christopher Columbus.

Berger had just been hired as Grand Valley's offensive coordinator Jan. 20, after serving as tight ends coach last season at Texas State. He had been on staff at Oklahoma State from 2017 to '18, and was at Missouri before that.

"Nothing in our background and reference checks revealed anything that would have suggested the unfortunate controversy that has unfolded," said Mitchell, the head coach of Grand Valley, a Division II school in Michigan. "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."

Days after Berger's comments were published last week, the Lanthorn editor-in-chief Nick Moran told MLive.com that an athletics department official pressured the sports editor to remove the Hitler references.

The student sports editor "reflexively'' complied and removed the comments, said Moran, who declined to name the official. The Hitler references were restored the next day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.