The Colorado State University athletic department issued an apology Saturday night after chants of “Russia” were directed from a group of fans at Utah State basketball player Max Shulga, who is from Ukraine, during the teams’ game Saturday evening.

“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 statement, which was posted on social media, 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. Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.”

With 40.9 seconds remaining in the game Saturday and Utah State holding an 83-77 lead, Shulga went to the free throw line for two shots, during which time the chant could be heard on the television broadcast.

A short time after Colorado State released its statement, head men’s basketball coach Niko Medved wrote 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.”

Russia invaded Ukraine almost exactly a year ago, beginning a conflict that still continues. Shulga, who is from the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, told the Deseret News last year of the conflict, “I’m just all the way here. … It’s obviously nerve-wracking when you see stuff on the news. Not everything is real — some stuff is fake — but still until your people text you back that everything’s OK, you’re still kind of nervous about it.”

Utah State won Saturday’s game 88-79 to move to 19-5 on the season, while Colorado State dropped to 10-14.

On Sunday, Shulga released a statement through Utah State expressing forgiveness to the fans and gratitude to Colorado State administration, while also calling for prayers for Ukraine.

“This has been an extremely difficult and challenging year with my family and loved ones so far away and living in constant danger,” part of the statement read.

“I pray daily for the conflict to come to a close and for peace to be restored for my people in Ukraine...I hope you will all join me in praying for Ukraine.”

Mountain West Conference commissioner Gloria Nevarez released a statement Sunday that largely echoed Colorado State’s from Saturday night.

“The Mountain West and its member institutions are committed to good sportsmanship, integrity and a healthy environment for competition. Administrators, coaches, student‐athletes and spectators share in this commitment and this responsibility. The Conference will not condone degrading, disrespectful, or discriminating behavior in our arenas, stadiums or playing fields,” the statement began.

“We are aware of the insensitive language used by select spectators during the Utah State at Colorado State men’s basketball contest which is directly contrary to the principles of the Mountain West Sportsmanship Policy. 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.”