Northwestern State has made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of its football season, prioritizing the mental well-being of its players in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of safety Ronnie Caldwell.
University President Marcus Jones expressed, “Ronnie was a cherished member of our community, and his absence is deeply felt. Although our initial inclination was to continue playing following his passing, we have come to understand the profound emotional toll this has taken on our team. It is now in the best interests of our players, coaches, and staff to take a pause, grieve, heal, and provide support to Ronnie’s family.”
In addition to ending the season, Northwestern State has also accepted the resignation of Coach Brad Laird, who had been with the program for six seasons. Laird, in a statement issued by the university, shared, “I do not believe I can fully commit to these players or this program any longer. Every coach will tell you that their players become like family, and losing Ronnie felt like losing a son. I hold a deep love for this program and university, and I trust it will endure and carry forward with the indomitable competitive spirit that defines us.”
Ronnie Caldwell, a junior safety from Cedar Park, Texas, had been sidelined due to an injury but was traveling with the team in a quasi-coaching role, assisting with the defensive backs.
Athletics director Kevin Bostian expressed appreciation for Coach Laird’s enduring dedication to Northwestern State football. He noted that in addition to his coaching role, Laird had a successful history as a quarterback for the Demons and had also worked in the university’s alumni office.
To fill the coaching void, the university has announced that defensive coordinator Weston Glaser will step in as the interim head coach, while the athletic department initiates the search for a permanent head coach.
President Jones expressed gratitude for the understanding and support from the team, their families, friends, and the entire Northwestern State community during this challenging period.
Ronnie Caldwell’s life was tragically cut short when he was found with multiple gunshot wounds by Natchitoches police officers, who responded to a shooting report at an apartment complex near the campus shortly after 1 a.m. on October 12. The coroner’s office declared Caldwell deceased at the scene. As of now, no arrests have been made, and the case remains under investigation.
Caldwell had transferred from Tyler Junior College after the 2021 football season and played as a safety for the Demons in 2022, appearing in all 11 games, with 10 starts, and ranking seventh on the team in tackles.
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In the wake of Ronnie Caldwell’s tragic passing, Northwestern State canceled one game immediately and rescheduled another, enabling players and staff to attend funeral services in Texas. The team will conclude the season with a record of 0-6.