Northwestern State University canceled the remainder of its football season Thursday and announced the retirement of head coach Brad Laird in response to the shooting death of one of its players earlier this month. 

The university announced the decision, citing concern for the “mental health and well-being” of its student-athletes after the Oct. 12 death of defensive back Ronnie Caldwell.

“Ronnie was a beloved member of our community, and we miss him dearly,” NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones said in a statement provided by the school. 


“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.”

There were four games remaining on the team’s schedule. 

Head coach Brad Laird also announced his decision to step down after six seasons. 


“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.”

The Natchitoches Police Department responded to reports of gunshots in the area of University Parkway at around 1 a.m. Oct. 12. Once there, they discovered 21-year-old Ronnie Caldwell with several gunshot wounds. 

He was later pronounced dead by the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office. 

That same day, Caldwell’s roommate, 27-year-old John McIntosh, was arrested for possession of a gun in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance. His arrest has not been linked to Caldwell’s death 

But eight days later, on Oct. 20, one of Caldwell’s former teammates was arrested in Caldwell’s death. 

“Detectives with the Natchitoches Police Department and agents with Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force have arrested Maurice Campbell II for obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance,” a press release from law enforcement read.

According to Northwestern State, Caldwell’s death still remains under investigation.