Gophers’ football Coach Kill to take time off, focus on epilepsy treatment

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill before a football game against Nebraska, October 2011. (AP Photo / Paul Battaglia)

Gophers football Coach Jerry Kill will take time off to focus on his epilepsy treatments, the University of Minnesota said this afternoon.

The U did not give a timeline for his return to complete duties as coach. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as the acting head coach in Kill’s absence.

At a news conference, Claeys said Kill has been frustrated lately with his seizures, including one Saturday morning that caused him to stay in Minnesota and not travel with the team to Michigan.

“I think it’s a huge step for him and his family to decide this is the time to look at it more carefully rather than say, ‘We’re going to put it off to later on,” Claeys said.

Kill’s seizure over the weekend was the  fifth seizure for Kill on a game day – and second this year – in three seasons at Minnesota, according to the Associated Press.

After a seizure during a game last month against Western Illinois, Kill turned aside questions about his condition, saying he’d talked about it enough. U athletics director Norwood Teague voiced strong support for his coach as pundits asked if Kill’s condition could ultimately hurt the team’s competitiveness and its ability to recruit future players.

In a statement Thursday, Teague said:

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.

Laura Yuen and Brandt Williams contributed to this report.