MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler said he is hopeful the school can find a way to keep former football coach Jerry Kill in the fold even as Kill talked about moving on to other ventures.
Kill was forced to retire seven games into last season because of epilepsy. After numerous conversations with Kaler, the sides were unable to agree on a new role for him at the school. Kill says he was offered positions to help with fundraising and teaching, but the coach wanted to continue to have a big role in the athletic department.
“Jerry Kill is an asset to the University of Minnesota athletics program and the broader community,” Kaler said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Jerry and I had numerous extensive conversations about a potential role with the university, and we could not identify a full-time opportunity that met both his needs and those of the university.”
Kill became a wildly popular man on campus for helping to rebuild the Golden Gophers football team after inheriting a program in disarray thanks to the inept reign of previous coach Tim Brewster. Kill improved recruiting, development and performance in the classroom during his four and a half years and led the Gophers to their first New Year’s Day bowl game since 1962 after the 2014 season.
The university stuck with Kill while be battled epilepsy, a condition that brought on seizures that caused him to miss at least a portion of five games in his first three seasons, including one that occurred on the field against New Mexico State in the 2011 home opener.
In late October last year, Kill determined that he couldn’t take the right combination of medications to keep his seizures under control while at the same time devoting so much time to the exhausting job of running the Gopher program and spearheading the school’s fundraising efforts for a new practice facility.
He retired during a tearful press conference on Oct. 28 and longtime assistant Tracy Claeys took over for him. A clause in his contract offered the possibility of an “agreed upon position” for $200,000 annually if Kill’s health ever prevented him from coaching full time.
Despite that apparently not being an option now, university officials still believed that Kill will continue making appearances on behalf of the Gophers.
“We want Jerry to remain a part of the university community in a way that works for everyone,” Kaler said. “The athletic department and others are already identifying and discussing opportunities with Jerry.”
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