Illinois State University has issued an apology after fans were accused of using racial slurs against a Black basketball player during a game. On Saturday, the Illinois State Redbirds played against Norfolk State University, an HBCU.

During the second half of the game, the broadcast crew pointed to fans making comments “of a racial nature.” Footage of the incident shows Norfolk State coach Robert Jones being stopped from players to step onto the court. Illinois State coach Ryan Pedon was seen confronting Jones while players from both teams rushed toward them. According to ESPN, fans were removed from the arena while Jones and Pedon were given technical fouls.

“The men’s basketball game on Saturday between Illinois State and Norfolk State was regrettably marred by the report of a racial slur directed at a Norfolk State player by an Illinois State fan,” Bill Salyer, ISU’s director of athletic communications, told NBC News. “The use of racial slurs and other offensive language targeting people for their identity is abhorrent and is not tolerated by Illinois State University. Illinois State’s core values are respect for others, diversity, and inclusion.” 

“Illinois State has moved swiftly to investigate the report and will respond appropriately,” he added. “Illinois State University and Redbird Athletics extend sincere apologies to Norfolk State University, its student-athletes, and its athletics staff for the deep upset caused, and university leaders have personally reached out to colleagues at Norfolk State.”

Jones took to social media to defend his players.

“I’m not letting anybody call my players a racial slur,” he tweeted. “Those are my kids, and I will fight for them. “We have come too far in society to be called the N word at college basketball game.”

Pedon said he reached out to Jones to apologize and indicated that he reacted without knowing the situation.

“This was a misunderstanding in which I reacted to him without understanding the situation, and I own that mistake 100%,” he said. “I would also like to apologize for any negative reflection my response may have brought to either institution, its student-athletes or basketball programs.”

Norfolk State President Javaune Adams-Gaston publicly accepted Illinois State University’s apology. 

“We are profoundly disappointed at the events that transpired during the men’s basketball game yesterday at Illinois State University, where racial epithets were shouted at our student-athletes,” she said. “We are at a critical time in this nation and world as it relates to race relations, and any type of hate speech or language is unacceptable.”