College football fans have a long-standing tradition of holding up humorous signs in the crowd that forms behind ESPN's "College GameDay" stage. However, a University of Michigan student caused outrage after holding up a sign that read “Hi Lizzy Seeberg,” referencing the college student who killed herself after reporting that she had been sexually assaulted by a Notre Dame football player in 2010.
The sign incident took place during Saturday’s edition of "College GameDay," which previewed that day’s game between college football rivals Michigan and Notre Dame. The “Hi Lizzy Seeberg” sign appeared over co-host Desmond Howard’s shoulder, which some took as a taunt directed at Notre Dame.
Seeberg was a 19-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s College, a small, women-only school located across from Notre Dame, the Daily Mail notes. On Aug. 31, 2010, Seeberg claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a Notre Dame football player the previous night. Nine days later, Seeberg committed suicide by ingesting a lethal dose of antidepressant medication.
In an official complaint to Notre Dame police, Seeberg alleged that the football player had inappropriately touched her, according to a written statement obtained by the National Catholic Reporter. Campus police acknowleged that a sex-related crime had taken place, but local police declined to pursue the matter, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Notre Dame football player’s name was not publicly released, nor were any charges levied against him.
A Notre Dame spokesperson addressed Seeberg’s suicide in January 2013, admitting that the school “could have acted a bit more quickly” in looking into the incident. The spokesperson also downplayed Seeberg’s allegations, noting that a county prosecutor said in 2010 that her story was “in conflict” with accounts provided by two other students. “It was an allegation of touching above the waist,” the spokesperson told the Huffington Post. “He says it was consensual. She says it wasn’t.”
On Monday, Deadspin obtained a letter from a person who claims to have held up the “Hi Lizzy Seeberg” sign on the "GameDay" set, saying the sign wasn’t intended as a taunt but rather to draw attention to Seeberg’s case in light of Notre Dame’s alleged “dismissal” of the accusations.
“This is unacceptable. Not just unacceptable in the eyes of college football fans, or whatever, but unacceptable in the eyes of society,” the alleged “Hi Lizzy Seeberg” sign-holder wrote. “Notre Dame is better than this. We, as a people, are better than this.”
"In short, it was done to show that she isn't forgotten, and that people do know and care about her story. Even if her school refuses to acknowledge it, there are some people out there who do."