Athletic director's support for Jerry Kill continues to be very strong
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MINNEAPOLIS -- University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague insisted his stance on football coach Jerry Kill has not wavered in the wake of Kill's second public seizure episode of the season on Saturday.
"I know this will bring up questions about him moving forward, but we have a 100 percent confidence in Jerry," Teague said after the Gophers' 26-10 loss to Michigan State in their regular-season finale at TCF Bank Stadium.
"We'll evaluate at the end of the year his health, and that mainly is for him to keep taking care of himself, exercise, sleep, eating right. The more he makes progress there the more he'll make progress with his health going forward. And I feel very good about that."
Kill, who battles the effects of a seizure disorder on a daily basis, suffered an episode in the coaches' locker room at halftime. The medical staff that responded to the incident decided the seizure was minor, and did not warrant taking him to the hospital.
Kill remained resting in the locker room after the game, according to team officials.
Kill's latest seizure came six weeks after an occurrence in the locker room following the Gophers' Oct. 13 loss to Northwestern resulted in him staying overnight at a local hospital. He returned to work one day later.
Teague, who is his first year as the Gophers' athletic director, remarked that the Oct. 13 incident served to educate him on Kill's condition, and understand the complexities of the disorder. As a result, his attitude on the situation has become increasingly understated.
"It was new for me at Northwestern," Teague said. "But after really being with him and asking the doctors, and asking a lot of questions ... You don't want to downplay it, but you get to the point that you start realizing that it's something that he has to deal with at times. You don't want say that it's not that big of a deal, but in a way, it's easy to deal with in a lot of ways."
Kill has been straightforward in admitting publicly that he deals with an epileptic disorder on a regular basis and takes daily medication. His coaching staff, many of whom have been with Kill for several years, and his players have been informed about how to manage an episode if one was to occur.
When Kill could not return to the field after halftime, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys took over the head coaching duties from the press box, while defensive backs and special teams coach Jay Sawvel served as the Gophers' primary on-field representative.
Word of Kill's status trickled through the team during the third quarter. For the players, defensive end D.L. Wilhite said Kill's absence didn't have an effect on how they reacted in the third quarter.
"To be real with you guys, I didn't really think about it," Wilhite said. "When things hit you, you just have to keep on moving forward. We had a game to play. That's how we saw it, myself included ... We were concerned and wanted Coach Kill to be healthy. We had that on our mind, but I don't think too many people were focusing on him not being out there."
Kill reportedly eventually left the stadium for his nearby home with his wife, Rebecca. Teague said he expects Kill to return to work no later than Monday.
Discussions outside of the program about Kill's long-term future with the Gophers have started up again in light of his most recent incident. But Teague has not backed down in his support of Kill and his staff.
"It doesn't really concern me that much," Teague said. "I live with these guys everyday internally. That's the biggest thing for me is watching them and how they operate. With my experience with coaches and coaching staffs, they're winning the battles everyday in how they manage the program. The fruit is shown on the field. Regardless of Jerry's health right now, we're making progress with this program."