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Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to take time away, focus on health

Jerry Kill has suffered two seizures on gamedays this season as a result of his epilepsy. Jerry Kill has suffered two seizures on gamedays this season as a result of his epilepsy. (Andy Clayton-King/AP)

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill will continue to take time away from coaching and focus on treating his epilepsy, the Golden Gophers announced Thursday.

In Kill's absence, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will step in as acting head coach, as he has done previously.

Kill said in a statement that the decision was the correct one for his health.

"My wife Rebecca, myself and our two daughters want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns during the last few weeks. This was a difficult decision to make, but the right decision. Our staff has been together a long time and I have full confidence in Coach Claeys and them during my time away. Every decision that will be made will be in the best interest of the players and the program. I look forward to returning to the Minnesota sideline on a full-time basis soon.”

Kill has suffered a number of seizure-related incidents in his coaching career, including the most recent episode Saturday morning before Minnesota's game against Michigan, which Kill did not coach. Kill also suffered a seizure at halftime of a game against New Mexico State in September.

Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement that the school supports Kill in his treatment.

“Coach Kill is taking time to continue treatment and focus on managing his Epilepsy. Tracy Claeys will serve as the interim head coach until Coach Kill is ready to return. Coach Kill will remain in very close contact with the team and his staff and provide direction and support as needed. Our support for Coach Kill is unwavering and we look forward to his return to full-time coaching duties.

“This is a great group of student-athletes under the guidance of one of the longest-tenured and most respected staffs in college football, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to move this program forward and make us proud.”

Minnesota President Eric Kaler echoed Teague's support of Kaler, stressing that Kill is expected to return to his full-time coaching duties in the future.

“Athletics Director Norwood Teague and Coach Kill are managing this health situation, as it relates to our football program, in the most straightforward and caring manner possible. They are acting in the best interests of this University, its alumni and fans and, most importantly, the student-athletes who have placed their trust in us. I eagerly look forward to Coach Kill’s return and wish him all the best.”

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