A “Michigan Sniper” T-shirt that includes Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh’s signature on the front in maize began generating attention on social media Monday night. The shirt was created as a response to a post on Harbaugh’s Twitter account referencing the movie “American Sniper.”
The University has sent Trending T-Shirts, the site selling the shirts, a cease and desist letter ordering them to stop offering the shirts.
“The shirt you are referencing was not authorized by the athletic department or Coach Harbaugh,” Athletic Department spokesperson Dave Ablauf said in a statement on Tuesday.
Last week, the University canceled a showing of “American Sniper,” drawing national attention and inspiring a petition to reinstate the movie to its spot on the UMix schedule. Ultimately “American Sniper” was shown to an audience of over 100 students, in addition to the movie “Paddington.”
Amid the controversy, Harbaugh’s tweet expressed his support for showing the movie and his plans to screen the film for the Michigan football team. The tweet read, “Michigan Football will watch ‘American Sniper!’ Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!”
Many student comments centered around their impression that the shirt had been endorsed by Harbaugh, as the shirt features his signature.
In a Facebook post, LSA freshman Adrian Hanna expressed her frustration with Harbaugh’s stance on the American Sniper movie. In the post, Hanna said the shirts are offensive.
“If you know that people are offended by something just leave it be,” Hanna wrote. “If you think it’s “un-American” to hate American Sniper that’s your opinion not a fact. You can’t back it up, but you can back up the fact that this movie portrays people in Iraq as “savages” which is completely uncalled for. You may be a great football coach, but you are not a good person. Respect your students.”
Managing Sports Editor Max Cohen contributed reporting.