Utah State University officials say they're "disappointed and disturbed" by fans' actions during a home basketball game earlier this month against Brigham Young University, and have issued an official apology to BYU.
USU President Stan Albrecht and Athletics Director Scott Barnes issued a letter posted on the university's website Tuesday afternoon after "crude language, outright vulgarity and deeply personal insults" were chanted at an "opposing player" during the first men's basketball game of the season between BYU and USU at the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum.
On Tuesday night, Barnes said comments, chants and signs went beyond what the school has seen before.
"The inappropriateness of the statements were at a level that we had to respond," he said. "Individuals made comments at levels we haven't seen. This (game) was different. It had a personal tone to it."
Barnes said "a few individuals" put the school in the position to respond and apologize.
"Some fans chose to conduct themselves in ways that went far beyond mere school rivalry, fair play and - most importantly - basic human decency," the letter read. "It is inappropriate for us to invite a guest to come into our home and then have to suffer the language and personal insults tossed at him. We have visited personally with both President (Cecil) Samuelson and Athletic Director Tom Holmoe and apologized on behalf of the USU community."
It is not made clear who the opposing player was as referred to in the letter. However, Aggie fans at the Nov. 11 game held signs scolding BYU center Brandon Davies for violating the LDS school's honor code by reportedly having premarital sex. Many held homemade signs, reading slogans like, "Rise up not a problem for Davies" and "Davies, you are the father."
At the start of the 2011-12 season, Davies returned to the court after being suspended toward the end of the 2010-11 season.
Barnes said the "inappropriate" comments were made toward both Davies and the BYU team as a whole.
He called on students to self-govern themselves and added he's already met with student leadership to begin a "grassroots effort to mitigate behavior moving forward."
Barnes said university staff did remove some signs during the Nov. 11 game.
"We patrol the signs, and the inappropriate ones were removed," he said. "That doesn't mean we removed every sign."
The letter says, "We have to be able to find some way to display incomparable enthusiasm and school spirit without resorting to crude language, outright vulgarity and deeply personal insults chanted at an opposing player."
Albrecht and Barnes write that USU officials have already begun to redouble efforts by working with the HURD leadership, cheer squads, the Associated Students of USU and fans themselves to "discuss the principles of good sportsmanship and the definition of ‘Aggie' good sportsmanship."
"Surely we can find ways to exhibit extraordinary - and extraordinarily loud - school spirit while at the same time being extraordinary examples of character and integrity," the letter read. "We pride ourselves on these principles of behavior both in and out of the classroom. This is an important issue that must be addressed quickly."
On the Web: http://www.usu.edu/ust/index.cfm?article=50538