Utah State Issues Statement On Colorado State's 'Russia' Chant
Utah State has released a statement in response to an "inappropriate and unacceptable" incident at Saturday evening's men's basketball game between Utah State and Colorado State, which saw members of the Colorado State student section chant 'Russia' at Utah State junior guard Max Shulga during late-game free throws. Shulga is from Kyiv, Ukraine, and his family has remained in Kyiv through a nearly year-long Russian invasion.
In its statement, Utah State affirmed its full support of Shulga and his family and joined Colorado State in condemning the behavior.
"Utah State University and its athletics department fully supports Max Shulga and his family, who reside in Ukraine," the statement reads. "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 also released a statement on Sunday afternoon.
"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," Shulga wrote. "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 say and do 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."
Colorado State released its initial statement apologizing for the behavior of "a small group of individuals in our student section," which was "a violation of our steadfast belief in the Mountain West Sportsmanship Policy and University Principles of Community."
"On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State," the Colorado State release reads. "Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State."
Colorado State head coach Niko Medved released a brief statement of his own on his Twitter account.
"I have so much respect for (Utah State basketball) and Max Shulga," Medved posted. "We have amazing fans and students but this is not acceptable! My sincere apologies."
Scott Garrard, the play-by-play voice of the Aggies, was the first to note the inappropriate chants, confirming what some television viewers thought they had heard during the waning moments of the game.
Utah State junior point guard Steven Ashworth shared his frustration with the incident as well.
This was the first and only scheduled meeting between the Aggies and Rams this season, though the two programs met three times in 2021-22. Utah State held on to claim an 88-79 victory, with help from three Shulga free throws in the final minute of play.