All-conference running back Josh Caldwell was dismissed from the Missouri Western football team on Thursday, Oct. 26.
As of late, Caldwell, a junior, had been suffering from a minor shoulder injury and had been limited in the last two games he played in, both losses against Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State. Caldwell was averaging just under 20 carries and 121 yards a game through the first six games but has been limited to an average of 11 carries and 63 yards a game the last two bouts. According to head coach Matt Williamson, there are no hard feelings between Caldwell, the team and the rest of the athletic department.
“It was a mutual agreement between me and Caldwell on him leaving the team,” Williamson said. “We as in the coaching staff have some rules and expectations for the program that he didn’t meet. The whole team, we all got along. I guess he was unhappy and I think it showed a little bit. I still have a good relationship with Caldwell.”
While the athletic department says Caldwell’s departure was mutually agreed upon, Caldwell disagrees.
“All I’m going to say is it wasn’t my choice to leave,” Caldwell said. “I would never leave my teammates hanging. I love those boys.”
“I wish the Missouri Western football team nothing but the best,” Caldwell said. “I loved every second playing as a Griffon. My teammates were like brothers to me, and I’m going to miss those guys in the locker room. If I could do it over again, I would have still chosen Missouri Western.”
When learning about what Caldwell had to say, Williamson responded that instead of a mutual agreement, it was a mutual dismissal.
“It actually was his choice to leave,” Williamson said. “It was a mutual dismissal.”
Once again, Caldwell would rebuttal.
“I never wanted to leave the team,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell has been one of brighter spots for Western in the past two seasons. Last year he was the number one running back in the MIAA Conference as he led the entire league with 1,453 rushing yards on 239 attempts, along with 11 total touchdowns. Prior to the loss against Washburn, he was second in the conference with 856 rushing yards on 138 attempts, and also had eight touchdowns as well.
Regarding the rules and expectations that the football program holds, Williamson elaborated more on the issue. According to Williamson, Caldwell’s departure was not the result of breaking an existing guideline in the policy handbook players agreed to adhere to at the beginning of the season.
“As for breaking any rules, no, Caldwell did not break any rules in our policy manual,” Williamson said.
Athletic director Josh Looney would give an official statement on the status of Caldwell’s departure from the team in an interview Sunday, Oct. 29.
“Caldwell is still in good standing at this university and in the outside community,” Looney said. “It’s up to him if he’s going to continue here at Western academically.”