Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to take leave of absence to focus on epilepsy
Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill will take time away from the program to focus on managing his epilepsy and treatments, director of athletics Norwood Teague announced.
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will again step in as acting head coach in Kill's absence. Kill suffered his fifth game-day seizure as a result of his epilepsy prior to Saturday's loss at Michigan. Kill's latest seizure was attributed to a medication adjustment. It was the fourth episode that has kept him from coaching at least a portion of a Gophers game in three seasons.
On Tuesday, university president Eric Kaler reaffirmed his support for Kill and his faith in the coach's ability to handle his coaching responsibilities and deal with epilepsy.
Kaler said he and athletic director Norwood Teague have not been considering another coach in light of Kill's latest absence, according to the Associated Press.
Minnesota released the following statements:
Statement from Head Coach Jerry Kill
"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."
Statement from Director of Athletics Norwood Teague
"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."
Statement from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler
"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."