AD Teague gives Kill vote of confidence

Jerry Kill had a seizure during the Gophers’ 29-12 win over Western Illinois University Saturday.

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill watches on the sidelines in the first half against Western Illinois on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. During halftime, Coach Kill had a seizure and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Amanda Snyder

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill watches on the sidelines in the first half against Western Illinois on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. During halftime, Coach Kill had a seizure and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Nate Gotlieb

University of Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague reaffirmed the department’s commitment to head football coach Jerry Kill on Monday, two days after Kill had a seizure during the Gophers’ 29-12 win over Western Illinois University at TCF Bank Stadium.

In his first public comment since the episode, Teague reiterated his support for the University’s third-year head coach.

“Jerry [Kill] is our coach, and we are 100 percent behind him,” he said. “I am 100 percent behind him.  Our squad and student athletes who are at the heart of it continue to improve under his leadership both on and off the field.”

Kill, who has epilepsy, had the seizure at about 12:15 p.m. Saturday, just before halftime started. The University’s medical staff carted him off the field and he was driven to a local hospital as a precaution, said Chris Werle, associate athletic director for strategic communications.  

Werle read a prepared statement and did not take questions about the episode. Teague did not make himself available for comment.

Teague said Monday he acted for “the betterment of the program” Saturday after the game, explaining that he chose to drive Jerry Kill’s wife, Rebecca Kill, to the hospital and address fans and players instead of speaking to the media.

The Gophers led Western Illinois 7-6 at the time of the incident but scored 22 points in the second half, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to improve to 3-0 on the year.

“Nobody likes to see him go through it, but we all are comfortable with the situation and know it could happen,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said Sunday. “I was very pleased yesterday with the way everyone responded. We’ll continue to move the program forward and so will coach.”

After a brief hospital stay, Kill was at home as of 4:15 p.m. Saturday, according to a team press release.

Plan of action

Saturday’s seizure was Kill’s third in a game in his two-plus seasons as Minnesota head coach.  He had another in the locker room following the Gophers’ loss to Northwestern University last October.  

The team has a strategy in place for when Kill has a seizure. As happened Saturday, Claeys takes over head coaching duties from the press box, while special teams coach Jay Sawvel becomes the acting head coach on the field.  

A number of players said after the game Saturday that they are well prepared in the event Kill goes down.

Teague said Kill’s epilepsy hasn’t affected recruiting, and mentioned that no recruit has ever said anything about the disease being a problem.

Epilepsy affects about 3 million Americans, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, and about 60,000 Minnesotans.  

The Gophers will host an epilepsy awareness game on October 26 against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.