Kill has fourth game-day seizure

Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague didn’t address Kill’s health Saturday, but he will this week.

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.

Samuel Gordon

The first time Jerry Kill had a seizure during a game, all of TCF Bank Stadium stood still.

But when the University of Minnesota head football coach had a seizure on the sideline during Saturday’s game against Western Illinois University, the marching band didn’t even stop playing.

The seizure was his fourth on a game day during his tenure with the University, including one during his first home game in September 2011. Kill has also had several seizures away from the gridiron. But Saturday’s episode has sparked questions about whether he should keep coaching.

Kill, 52, collapsed at halftime in the Gophers’ 29-12 win over Western Illinois. Medical staff immediately tended to him on the sideline during the marching band’s halftime performance.

Kill was carted off the field and transported to a nearby hospital where he rested comfortably Saturday afternoon, according to a prepared statement by Chris Werle, associate athletics director for strategic communications.

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague didn’t speak to the media after the game. University athletics officials said Teague will address Kill’s situation Monday.

Kill, a cancer survivor, has battled epilepsy for years.

His seizures are nothing new for fans, his assistant coaches and his players, who have all developed a routine in the event he has a seizure during a game.

“That is how we were trained,” defensive coordinator and acting head coach Tracy Claeys said after the game. “That is what [Kill] would want. The team knows what they have to do, and nothing changes.”

Claeys said Sunday that he visited Kill on Saturday night at his home and that the head coach was resting with his family, watching television.

Kill has been adamant in the past about his intentions to continue coaching despite his epilepsy.

His assistants and players have been nothing but supportive.

“If the doctors said it was best for him to step away, there wouldn’t be one of us that would argue,” Claeys said. “I’ve been involved with the doctors, and there is no inkling of that around.”

Senior defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman said he didn’t find out about the seizure until he was in the locker room at halftime.

Freshman tight end Maxx Williams said the team didn’t miss a beat after halftime and credited the coaching staff’s demeanor for the strong second-half performance.

That said, there is still a considerable amount of speculation about Kill’s ability to coach at the highest level, and little has been done to dispel it.

Offensive coordinator and longtime Kill assistant Matt Limegrover was passionate Sunday when speaking about Kill’s battle with epilepsy.

“He hasn’t run from it or [hidden] from it,” he said.

Limegrover questioned those who criticize Kill’s work ethic and dedication to his job.

“When people [are critical of Kill] … they’re basically saying, ‘Hey, it’s too bad [for] you people with epilepsy. Don’t shoot for your dreams, don’t push and try and have goals,’” Limegrover said. “I’m shaking over here because that’s just so ignorant.”

 

-Jack Satzinger contributed to this report.