CSU student section verbally harasses USU’s Ukrainian guard


Collegian | Jaiden Stanford

Colorado State University forward Isaiah Stevens (4) shoots the ball while being guarded by a Utah State University player Feb. 4. Though CSU lost 88-79, Stevens was the leading scorer for the Rams with 25 points.

Mike Walsh and Madeline Davis

Karsyn Lane, Sports Director

Colorado State University’s student section shouted “Russia” toward Utah State University Ukrainian guard Max Shulga during last night’s matchup against the Aggies in Moby Arena. Following the basketball game, Colorado State Athletics became aware that a small section of the student section chanted during Shulga’s final attempt at the free-throw line, saying the name of the nation currently in conflict with Shulga’s home country. 

“Following tonight’s 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,” said Ryan Pfeifer, a CSU Athletics spokesperson. “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 be welcome in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.” 


Head coach Niko Medved responded to the incident via Twitter, saying, “I have so much respect for @USUBasketball and Max Shulga. We have amazing fans and students, but this is not acceptable! My sincere apologies.”


“We acknowledge 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 Conference Commissioner Gloria Nevarez said in a statement this afternoon.


Utah State broadcaster Scott Garrard mentioned the behavior as well on Twitter and emphasized that “Max is from Kyiv, Ukraine, and his family still resides there.” The Russia-Ukraine war is nearing its nine-year anniversary and has caused one of the largest refugee crises since World War II.

“To the student and their family, there’s a lot more people at CSU standing with you than the few you heard from Saturday night.” -Amanda Penley, CSU student 

While the statement has already been addressed, there is still frustration and confusion surrounding the spectators’ behavior. The Colorado State Rams Twitter is currently being called out for lax action against the group of students accused of the behavior. Many believe these students need to take accountability and have their right to attend future Colorado State Athletics events revoked.

Some are also upset with CSU Athletics for saying “the Ukraine.” The inclusion of “the” before “Ukraine” is a Soviet Union-era habit that implies Ukraine is a territory when it has been an independent country since 1991.


Current CSU student Amanda Penley, who attended last night’s game, described it as “disgusting and embarrassing.” Penley continued, “The group of students who felt the need to attack a player of the opposing team, a stranger they know nothing about, do not hold values representative of the CSU community. To the student and their family, there are a lot more people at CSU standing with you than the few you heard from Saturday night.” 

Reach Karsyn Lane at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @karsynlane1