Northwestern State’s football program has been hit by tragedy this year. On October 12 junior safety Ronnie Caldwell, 21, passed away, from injuries he sustained from gunshot wounds. On Thursday, the school announced that it will be calling off the remainder of its 2023 football season, citing mental health concerns following Caldwell’s death.
“Ronnie was a beloved member of our community, and we miss him dearly,” said university president Marcus Jones. “While our instinct was to return to the field of play following his death, we’ve since learned that the hurt on our team was too deep. Now it is in the best interest of our players, coaches, and staff to pause and to take this time to mourn, to heal, and to support Ronnie’s family.”
Demons head coach Brad Laird has also resigned from his position; a resignation in which the school has already accepted. Laird, who has been the team’s head coach since 2018 is an alumni of the school and has been with the program in some capacity intermittently since his playing days in the early 1990s.
“Due to the loss of Ronnie and the emotional burden it has caused me, I don’t feel I can give my all to these players and this program,” Laird said.
The school has named assistant and defensive coordinator Weston Glaser acting interim head coach while it begins the process of searching for Laird’s replacement.
Northwestern State had already canceled one game this season against Nichols due to Caldwell’s passing but did play last week against Southeastern Louisiana. The upcoming games against McNeese, Houston Christian, Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Commerce are also now officially canceled. Northwestern State was 0-6 this season.