Colorado State apologizes after fans chant ‘Russia’ at Utah State basketball player from Ukraine

Utah State guard Max Shulga (11) defends a shot during the Aggies' 88-79 victory over Colorado State on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Photo: Colorado State University Athletics

LOGAN, Utah, Feb. 5, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Colorado State University has apologized after fans chanted “Russia” at a Utah State men’s basketball player from Ukriane during a game Saturday night in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Max Shulga was shooting free throws late in the Aggies’ 88-79 victory over the Rams when a small group of fans in Colorado State’s student section at Moby Arena chanted “Russia” at the Kyiv, Ukraine, native.

The university, its athletics department and Rams coach Niko Medved all issued apologizes via social media following the game. Shulga also addressed the chants on social media Sunday, saying: “I accept and appreciate the apology.”

Colorado State tweeted an apology to Shulga and Utah State at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, calling the fans’ behavior unacceptable.

“Following tonight’s basketball game, we became aware that a small group of individuals in our student section chanted ‘Russia’ at a student-athlete from Utah State, who is from the Ukraine,” the athletic department stated.

“On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State. This is a violation of our steadfast belief in the Mountain West Sportsmanship Policy and University Principles of Community. Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.”

Medved followed with his own apology for the students’ actions.

I have so much respect for @USUBasketball and Max Shulga. We have amazing fans and students but this is not acceptable! My sincere apologies,” he said.

Utah State officials called the chants “inappropriate and unacceptable” in a statement Sunday.

“Utah State University and its Athletics Department fully supports Max Shulga, and his family, who reside in Ukraine. “The incident that occurred during our men’s basketball game at Colorado State last night was inappropriate and unacceptable. We appreciate the Colorado State administration and basketball staff for not condoning such behavior.”

Shulga, a junior guard who helped seal Utah State’s victory with the late free throws, called for prayers for “peace in Ukraine” in his statement accepting the CSU apologies.

“First, I would like to thank the Colorado State administration and coach Medved for their immediate support and understanding following the disappointing events during last night’s game.

“This has been an extremely difficult and challenging year with my family and loved ones so far away and living in constant danger. I pray daily for the conflict to come to a close and for peace to be restored for my people in Ukraine.

“As for the chants last night, while extremely upsetting in the moment, I also know how emotions can run high during competition and people can do and say things they do not really mean. Colorado State and its fans have apologized and I accept and appreciate the apology.

“I hope you will all join me in praying for peace in Ukraine.”


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