Minnesota coach Jerry Kill takes leave for epilepsy

Minnesota announced today that Jerry Kill will focus on dealing with and treating his epilepsy and not return to the sidelines for the time being. It’s not known when Kill will return to coaching, but he will be back at some point. While away from coaching, Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as acting head coach.

Perhaps this time away will provide Kill with a better way to deal with his health issues. Perhaps it won’t. Only time will tell. Until then, Minnesota’s season marches on.

[ MORE: Twitter reaction to Jerry Kill taking leave of absence ]

The Gophers (4-2, 0-2) are off this week following a 42-13 loss at Michigan, their second straight defeat after a promising 4-0 start. Minnesota next plays Oct. 19 at Northwestern.

In a statement, Kill said: “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.” 

We’ll post the entire press conference from Minnesota in this post shortly. For now, here are some opening statements from Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague.

[ MORE: Read more post about Minnesota's Jerry Kill ]

Minnesota Schedule 2013
Date Opponent Result / Time
8/29 vs. UNLV W 51 – 23
9/7 at New Mexico State W 44 – 21
9/14 vs. Western Illinois W 29 – 12
9/21 vs. San Jose State W 43 – 24
9/28 vs. Iowa L 7 – 23
10/5 at 19 Michigan L 13 – 42
10/19 at 19 Northwestern 12:00 ET
10/26 vs. Nebraska TBA
11/2 at Indiana 3:30 ET
11/9 vs. Penn State TBA
11/23 vs. Wisconsin TBA
11/30 at Michigan State TBA

Last week, Kill was unable to attend Minnesota’s game at Michigan after suffering a seizure. It was the fifth seizure Kill had suffered since being hired at Minnesota in 2011. Before his latest episode, Kill’s most recent seizure occurred during last month’s win vs. New Mexico State. Kill has battled epilepsy dating back to his days as a FCS coach.

With continued health issues, many have wondered if it is best for Kill and the Minnesota program for him to continue coaching. Is the stress of being a big-time coach too much for someone with Kill’s issues? How will prospective recruits feel about committing to a coach who continually has had health issues that have forced him away from his job?

Teague and school president Eric Kaler have fully supported Kill continuing as coach. And Kill also has had the OK from his doctors.

“Coach Kill is taking time to continue treatment and focus on managing his Epilepsy,” Teague said in a statement. “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.” 

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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4 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (4 Comments)
bigtengrad on 10/10/2013 @ 4:36pm EDT Said:

I’m glad to see that he is focusing on his health, which is the most important thing. Seems as though he has a very competent and loyal staff to take care of business in his absence. Best of luck, Coach Kill.

hadley smith on 10/10/2013 @ 4:48pm EDT Said:

Minn. only needs 2 more wins to be bwl eligible. But their upcoming sched. is brutal…n west, neb. ind. p st wis and mich st. They could easily go 0-6.. The only possible wins I cld see to get to a bwl gm is p st and ind.
I also have a feeling that Kill won’t be back as Minn. coach. At least for the rest of this year. I’m sure the Minn. prez and A.D. are very concerned of whats going to happen with Kill and his battles with diabetes and his seizures. It’s too bad it had to come down to this. And I hope Kill can come back someday. But I think its just too risky to let him coach this tm or any other tm for that matter. Being a head coach is stressful enough w/o the problems Kill is going through. But I do admire him for trying. Good Luck Jerry.

shookwriter27 on 10/10/2013 @ 5:01pm EDT Said:

It’s a shame to see epillepsy take the man away from his team.

gengberg on 10/10/2013 @ 6:51pm EDT Said:

God bless you and get well!