MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota coach Jerry Kill missed an entire game for the first time because of his epilepsy, staying at home Saturday after suffering another seizure.
The Golden Gophers lost 42-13 to No. 19 Michigan.
Minnesota officials said Kill was not feeling well on Friday, but planned to travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to coach in the game. But he suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and was resting at home in Minnesota while the Gophers played.
It’s the fifth game-day seizure he has had in three seasons at Minnesota, and the second this year.
Kill did not coach the second half against Western Illinois, the third game he wasn’t able to finish because of a seizure. He returned for the next two games.
Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys served as the acting head coach at Michigan, leading the team from the press box. Kill made contact with his coaching staff before kickoff Saturday, according to the school.
“We have been through a lot of battles together,” Claeys said after the game. “We are all very well trained on our jobs and our responsibilities. We miss him here as a friend. We are all pretty much used to this, and so are the kids.”
Minnesota’s players were told Saturday morning at the team hotel that Kill wouldn’t be on the sideline at Michigan Stadium.
“We think so much of him,” Gophers defensive back Brock Vereen said. “It makes us motivated to want to play that much harder.”
Kill has worked hard to cope with his epilepsy, becoming an outspoken advocate for research of the condition that can include seizures without a moment’s notice.
He has said it is unacceptable to consistently miss portions of games due to seizures. Kill also has said he would walk away if he came to the conclusion that the stresses of the job and the physical toll it was taking was too much for him to bear.
Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague gave Kill a strong vote of confidence earlier this season, saying he is 100-percent behind his coach. Kill has also had consistent support from university President Eric Kaler.
Teague told KFAN radio before the game that Kill was able to lead practice during the week.
“He was there,” Teague said. “I know it’s so frustrating for him. He had a bounce this week and was at every practice. This is a setback for him. We have a bye week next week. We’ll keep managing it and move forward.”
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