Minnesota football coach, Jerry Kill, has announced his retirement from the game effective immediately, citing advice from his doctor that he might risk serious neurological problems if he continued coaching.
Kill has been battling with epilepsy since taking the Minnesota job back in 2011 and even suffered seizures during two games that year. He has also had seizures on the field, once in 2012 and then in 2013, the latter of which forced him to take a leave from the game that saw him miss seven games.
On Wednesday, during a news conference at the university, Kill revealed that he had two seizures before practice on Tuesday.
“Last night, when I walked off the practice field, I felt like a part of me died,” he said Wednesday in a news conference at the university.
“You know the struggles I’ve been through, and some of them have returned,” he continued. “I don’t want to cheat the game.”
Kill had already informed his colleagues of his decision early Wednesday morning and admitted that two years ago, he went through a very bad situation when he was forced to take a leave of absence and felt that he was going down a similar road again.
Speaking to reporters, the Minnesota coach said that he does not want to be a liability to anyone at the university and also added that coaching the team from the press box is not the type of situation he would ever go for.
While admitting that his doctor had told him many times about the serious neurological risks he was taking by continuing to coach, Kill explained that he never heeded his doctor’s advice but is now going to listen to him for the sake of his family.
The team’s interim athletic director, Beth Goetze says that Kill has made the best choice for himself and for his family before stating that he respects his colleague’s decision. “What he’s demonstrated today is the utmost courage,” said Goetze.
The interim athletic director also revealed that Kill had already discussed his retirement plans with him earlier this week and after having two seizures just before practice on Tuesday, decided to fast-track his decision.
The 54-year-old tactician overcame a battle with kidney cancer back in 2005 while he was coaching at Northern Illinois.
Despite his health concerns, Kill fared admirably well at Minnesota and led the Gophers to bowl games in the last three years.
“I have given every single ounce to the game, and the state of Minnesota, that I could,” Kill said.
Minnesota’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator, Tracy Claeys is set to replace Kill on an interim basis for the remainder of the regular season. The team is also without a permanent athletics director at the moment following the resignation of Norwood Teague back in August amid sexual harassment allegations.
Kill’s first college head coaching position was in 1994 when he got the job at Saginaw Valley State. He then coached Emporia State from 1999-2000 before moving to Southern Illinois where he guided the team to the FCS playoffs in five of his seven seasons.