Kaler voices support for Kill’s leave of absence

University President Eric Kaler spoke to the media before the game Saturday.

Nate Gotlieb

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said Saturday that he thinks the University made the right decision regarding head football coach Jerry Kill’s leave of absence.

“I had a lot of people in my ear saying we should fire him,” Kaler said at a press conference before the Gophers’ 24-10 win over Penn State. “That’s nonsense.  We’re going to be compassionate. We’re going to be smart about how to let Jerry get back to full strength.”

Kill has been on leave since Oct. 10 for his epilepsy treatment but has been around the team during that time. He’s been at each of the last four games and has coached in a limited role during the past three. The Gophers are 4-0 in that stretch.

“We’re fortunate that we’re winning under these conditions,” Kaler said. “But even if we weren’t, I know we made the right decision about how to let Jerry get back on his feet.”

Kaler said fans are more engaged when teams like football and basketball are playing at a high level.

“When I have a 7-2 football team, I’m a lot better president than when they’re 2-7,” he joked before the game.

The Gophers are 8-2 after the Penn State win and will return home in two weeks to face rival Wisconsin at TCF Bank Stadium. 

Facilities

Kaler also addressed the University’s $190 million athletics facilities plan, which he said is still in early fundraising stages. 

A central part of that plan,  which athletics director Norwood Teague unveiled this summer, is a new football complex and basketball practice facility.

“We’re going to need to make that investment,” Kaler said. “And I think it’s going to have great outcomes.”