Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill took an indefinite leave of absence from the team to undergo epilepsy treatment and management.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will fill in for Kill during his absence. The duration of Kill’s leave has yet to be determined.
Athletic director Norwood Teague added,”I’m confident we’re making the best decision.” He said he had a conversation with Kill and that the decision was made on Thursday.
Now that the head coach has some much-needed time off, Teague hopes he doesn’t become too anxious about the team’s performance while he’s away. He said,”It’s time for him to stay focused and really zero in on his condition.”
Kill missed the team’s flight going to Ann Arbor on Friday for the game against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday because he felt ill. He suffered a seizure on the morning of the game.
He’s also suffered in-game seizures for three consecutive years.
Claeys, who’s worked alongside him in parts of 19 years, believes skipping the Michigan game is just the first step toward the right direction.
“I know he is not going to let that happen again. By him missing that game finally, I just think he probably said,’Hey, if I want to be here all the time, I need to look into this and do what’s required of me.”
Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press cites an email sent to the newspaper from Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota executive director Vicki Kopplin which discusses the complexity of the condition.
“The need to take additional time to seek treatment for his epilepsy speaks to the complexity and spectrum of epilepsy. It is a complicated condition. I understand that it was a difficult — but necessary — decision. Not unlike other health conditions, sometimes it’s necessary to take a leave of absence.
“The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota applauds the U of M for their support of Coach Kill. We all look forward to seeing him on the sidelines again!”
This marks the first time in three years at the helm with the Gophers when Kill will take an extended leave. Minnesota is currently 4-2 heading into its bye week.