McNeese’s homecoming game canceled for Saturday

The Natchitoches Police Department has made an arrest they say is in connection with the death of NSU student Ronnie Caldwell.
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 3:09 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - McNeese’s homecoming football game against Northwestern State on Saturday has been canceled following Northwestern State’s decision to cancel the remainder of their season.

Northwestern State canceled their season Thursday following the death of team member Ronnie Caldwell, who was shot at his off-campus apartment on Oct. 12. A fellow teammate, Maurice Campbell II, of Memphis, was arrested in connection with the death. Campbell faces charges of obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance. The team’s head coach, Brad Laird, announced his resignation the same day the team canceled the season.

After the shooting, Northwestern canceled its Oct. 14 game against Nicholls State, then played its Oct. 19 game against Southeastern Louisiana.

NSU said the mental health and well-being of its student-athletes led up to the decision.

“We just found out a couple minutes before our team meeting,” McNeese Head Coach Gary Goff said. “It’s very unfortunate. Again our thoughts and prayers are with Ronnie Caldwell’s family, a very sad situation.“We were shocked to find out (on Thursday) we’re not playing a game. We’re going to move forward, we’re going to practice tomorrow and get a head start on Southeastern. We’re going to practice on Saturday and move forward.”

“It’s unfortunate that we announce the cancellation of our upcoming homecoming football game against Northwestern State this Saturday,” said Heath Schroyer, McNeese Director of Athletics. “This decision was made by Northwestern State’s leadership, who recently decided to cancel its season due to the tragic passing of their teammate, Ronnie Caldwell. We want to express our deepest condolences to Ronnie’s family and the entire Northwestern State community during this difficult time. We know this news will bring disappointment to our team and our fans, however, we support NSU’s decision. Our thoughts and prayers are with NSU as it navigates this heartbreaking situation.

“We support (Northwestern State) President Jones’ decision,” said McNeese President Dr. Daryl Burckel. “I know this wasn’t an easy one but it’s one that’s in the best interest of the Demon football program. Our hearts go out to them.”

McNeese’s Homecoming Parade will still roll Thursday night, and they’ll still hold the Friday Night Cowboy Block Party featuring LA Roxx. Homecoming festivities will be paused after the block party and will resume with the presentation of the Homecoming Court, Senior Day, and Teacher Appreciation on November 11, when the Cowboys host Houston Christians in the home finale.

McNeese will be credited with a win for this week’s game.

The University of Louisiana System provided the following statement, “While athletics is a vital part of the spirit of our universities, the health and well-being of our student athletes is our utmost priority. We support Northwestern and will continue to stand with Ronnie’s family, our student athletes, and the community at large as they recover from this tragedy.”