Fired Up and Fed Up: Quarterback Slams University's Disgraceful Choice
Northwestern State University quarterback Tyler Vander Waal is speaking out against the decision to cancel the football season after the tragic death of one of the team's players earlier this month. In a statement posted to social media, Vander Waal criticized the university’s handling of the situation and the lack of communication with the players.
The decision to cancel the season and accept the resignation of head coach Brad Laird came shortly after the Oct. 12 death of defensive back Ronnie Caldwell. However, according to Vander Waal, it was never truly about Caldwell, and the university used his tragic passing as an excuse to end the season.
"The lack of leadership was evident," Vander Waal wrote. "As much as I respected coach Laird as a coach and a man, he didn't have any control of this team. As players, we were kept in the dark about everything."
Vander Waal also expressed his disbelief at the decision to cancel the season, especially considering that it was the players who wanted to continue playing. He questioned the university’s priorities, stating, "They thought it would be smart to take away these players' outlets during a time of grief? Where we go to be together and have fun and play the game we love?"
He also criticized the timing of the decision, as it came just days before the team was set to start offseason workouts.
After biting my tongue, it’s time to speak out about this whole thing. My 2 cents: pic.twitter.com/IV7dS63Mfn
— Tyler Vander Waal (@TVDub_) October 28, 2023
While Vander Waal's statement called out the decision-makers at Northwestern State, the university’s athletics department defended the decision in a statement to KALB. They stated that the health and well-being of the players and coaches were the main concern in making the decision to end the season early.
"We understand and respect the feelings of our players," the statement read. "At the end of the day we had to take the health and welfare of players and coaches into consideration when making this difficult decision."
The Natchitoches Police Department is still investigating Caldwell’s death, which occurred in the early hours of Oct.12. The 21-year-old was found with multiple gunshot wounds and later pronounced dead. A suspect, 27-year-old John McIntosh, Caldwell's former roommate, was arrested for possession of a gun in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance. However, there is currently no evidence linking McIntosh to Caldwell's death.
Last week, another one of Caldwell's former teammates was also arrested in connection with the shooting. The investigation is ongoing, and the university has not released any further details about the case.
Northwestern State University's decision to end the season early has left many players frustrated and disappointed. The cancellation of the remaining four games on the schedule has not only affected the players' emotional well-being but also their opportunities to compete in the game they love.
Vander Waal’s statement has brought to light the lack of communication and support from the university during this difficult time. As the community continues to grieve the loss of Caldwell, many are left questioning the motives behind the decision to cancel the season.