Colorado State apologizes for ‘Russia’ chant directed toward Ukrainian player

Officials at Colorado State University apologized on Sunday after some of its basketball fans chanted “Russia” at a Utah State player from Ukraine during Saturday night’s game.

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Max Shulga, a guard who is from Kyiv and whose family still lives in the Ukrainian capital, was at the free throw line late in the game and chants of “Russia” could be heard from the Colorado State student section at Moby Arena, ESPN reported.

Shulga ignored the taunts and sank three of four free throws in the final minute of the game to help the Aggies to an 88–79 win in the men’s basketball game, according to Sports Illustrated.

Colorado State said in a series of tweets that the chant came from a “small group of individuals.”

“On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State,” the school tweeted. “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.”

Shulga, a junior guard, has averaged 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 24 games this season, Sports Illustrated reported. He scored nine points and had six assists against the Rams.

Scott Garrard, the radio voice of Utah State athletics, was inside the arena and first reported the chant to Mountain West officials, KSL-TV reported.

“Ugly situation in Fort Collins,” Garrard wrote on Twitter. “Colorado State student section chanted ‘Russia ... Russia’ at Max Shulga while he was shooting late free throws.”

The alleged chant was also picked up on the CBS Sports Network telecast, the Fort Collins Coloradan reported.

Colorado State basketball coach Niko Medved, Colorado State head men’s basketball coach, also apologized on Twitter.

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

On Sunday afternoon, Shulga thanked the Colorado State administration and the basketball team’s coaching staff in a statement for their “immediate support and understanding.”

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

In a statement, Utah State said “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,” the statement read. “We appreciate the Colorado State administration and basketball staff for not condoning such behavior.”

Kyiv has taken the brunt of Russia’s assault on Ukraine since hostilities began on Feb. 24, 2022, CNN reported.