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School Issues Statement After 'Russia' Incident Involving College Basketball Player: 'This Is a Violation'

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Colorado State University issued an apology after fans seated in the school’s student section directed chants of “Russia” at a student-athlete whose family still lives in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The incident in question occurred on Friday evening, during a game between the Colorado State Rams and the Utah State Aggies.

The Aggies ultimately won the contest 88-79 in Fort Collins, Colorado, somewhat offsetting the ugly incident, but not enough to stop an apology from the Rams.

Late in the game, voices that appeared to be coming from the Colorado State student section began chanting “Russia” at Utah State guard Max Shulga, who is from Kyiv, Ukraine. Shulga’s family still resides there, meaning they are very much in a danger zone.

Ukraine has been in the middle of an ugly conflict with Russia for nearly a year now, as ESPN notes, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

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The conflict has not slowed any, with President Joe Biden having just recently approved another batch of costly military aid to Ukraine.

In other words, Shulga’s family is still very much in the danger zone.

That concern for the Shulga family’s safety clearly didn’t weigh particularly heavy on whichever students were chanting “Russia” at Shulga while he was on the free throw line late in the game.

Colorado State issued an apology via Twitter following the incident:

Did fans cross the line with the "Russia" chants?

“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 first apology tweet from Colorado State read.

“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,” the second tweet stated.

A third tweet noted that “Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.”

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Shulga ultimately finished the game 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in the game, so the chants clearly didn’t impact him much during the game.

After the game?

Shulga divulged how “upsetting” those chants were via a statement provided by Utah State:

After thanking Colorado State for “their immediate support and understanding,” Shulga opened up how rough the past year has been for him.

“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 to restored for my people in Ukraine.”

Shulga then directly addressed the chants, ultimately accepting the school’s apology.

“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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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
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