Utah State junior guard Max Shulga went to the free-throw line late in the Aggies' road victory over the Colorado State Rams on Saturday, with a chance to put his team up eight points and effectively ice the game. The Rams' student section naturally wanted to distract Shulga; some number of these students thought it would be a good idea to chant "Russia."
Shulga is from Kiev, Ukraine, and his family still lives there. Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February 2022, and the ongoing war has caused tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 8 million Ukrainians. Certain tidbits from an opposing player's biography can be considered fair game for taunts—certainly no one would object too strongly to fans chanting "Crab legs" at Jameis Winston, for example—but a humanitarian crisis directly imperiling a player's family is several steps over the line.
After the game, Colorado State acknowledged the chant and apologized to Shulga and Utah State, describing the behavior of "a small group of individuals" in the student section as "unacceptable":
There will always be a subset of college sports fans who make it too personal. In 1988, Arizona State fans taunted Steve Kerr about the assassination of his father in Beirut with the chant "Where's your dad?" and the students last night who antagonized Shulga followed a similar logic, to a similarly regrettable outcome. Colorado State didn't mention any sort of punishment in its statement, but surely the perpetrators shouldn't be too hard to pick out of a reported crowd of 6,018.