Utah State guard Max Shulga goes to the basket in front of SMU forward Samuell Williamson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
FORT COLLINS, Colorado – In the waning minutes of Utah State’s men’s basketball victory over Colorado State on Saturday – which took place in Fort Collins – a small group of Rams student supporters chanted “Russia” at Aggie guard Max Shulga, a native of Ukraine, whose family still resides in the country currently under attack by the Russian state.
The chant was caught on the broadcast microphones and can be faintly heard during a pair of free throws Shulga attempted late in the game.
— Colby LeBaron (@clebaron617) February 5, 2023
Colorado State responded Saturday night to the reports with a statement condemning the actions and apologizing for the conduct of those students.
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.
— Colorado State Rams 🐏 (@CSURams) February 5, 2023
Rams head coach Niko Medved also apologized for the behavior, saying he has “so much respect for (USU basketball) and Max Shulga.”
I have so much respect for @USUBasketball and Max Shulga. We have amazing fans and students but this is not acceptable! My sincere apologies. https://t.co/PGPdGmVE7T
— Niko Medved (@coachNikoMedved) February 5, 2023
On Sunday, Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez released a statement regarding the incident, saying the conference “will not condone degrading, disrespectful, or discriminating behavior in our arenas, stadiums or playing fields.” Nevarez further said the conference “acknowledge(s) Colorado State’s response to the conduct and we stand with them and our fellow Mountain West member institutions in our unwavering commitment to ensuring that all of our venues are safe and inclusive and that every student-athlete and coach feels respected and safe.”
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) February 5, 2023
Also on Sunday, Utah State released a statement as did Max Shulga. The statement from USU Athletics said the actions from the students on Saturday “was inappropriate and unacceptable” and said that they “appreciate the Colorado State administration and basketball staff for not condoning such behavior.”
Statement from Utah State Athletics regarding last night’s game against
Colorado State. pic.twitter.com/AfelA0eskl
— Utah State Athletics (@USUAthletics) February 5, 2023
The statement released by Max Shulga, done through Utah State’s social media accounts, also thanked Colorado State administration and Medved for “immediate support and understanding” following the game which included reaching out and apologizing for the behavior. Shulga said that though the chant was “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.”
Statement from Max Shulga regarding last night’s game: pic.twitter.com/4Jaa91CNHU
— USU Men’s Hoops (@USUBasketball) February 5, 2023