The Northwestern State Demons have canceled the remainder of their 2023 football season due to the recent passing of junior safety, Ronnie Caldwell, the school announced on Thursday.
Caldwell died from injuries suffered after he was shot multiple times during the early hours of Thursday, Oct. 12, according to the Natchitoches Police Department in Natchitoches, La. Caldwell, who hails from Cedar Park, Texas, was 21 years old.
Northwestern State canceled its game that was scheduled at Nicholls on Saturday, Oct. 14, but then hosted Southeastern Louisiana five days later on Thursday, Oct. 19. The Demons (0-6) were scheduled to play at McNeese this Saturday.
“Ronnie was a beloved member of our community, and we miss him dearly,” said NSU President Dr. 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.”
NSU head coach Brad Laird has also resigned from his position with the school.
“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 or this program,” Laird said. “Any coach will tell you that their players become like family, so the loss of Ronnie was like losing a son. I love this program and this university and I know it will persevere and move forward with the competitive spirit that is at the core of our DNA.”
Caldwell had not yet played this season after suffering an injury in fall camp. Last season, he appeared in all 11 games and started 10, finishing seventh on the team in tackles.
“We appreciate Coach Laird’s long-term investment in Northwestern State football. From his undergraduate time as a record-setting quarterback to his year spent overseeing the university’s alumni office to coaching, he has been a vital member of the team,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian. “While we are disappointed not to be able to finish the season, we are confident that better days lie ahead for Northwestern State football.”
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Weston Glaser will now lead the NSU programs as interim head coach until a new head coach is retained.
In addition to the McNeese game this weekend, NSU’s contests at home against HCU on Nov. 4, on the road at UIW on Nov. 11, and at home against Nov. 18 have each been canceled.
The Southland Conference’s Statement on Northwestern State’s decision to cancel their football season this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/3IsDpklo8G
— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) October 26, 2023