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“We still have a lot of work to do but are moving the program in the right direction,” Jerry Kill said in a statement.

JIM GEHRZ • jim.gehrz@startribune.com,

Gophers put their faith, money in Kill with new contract

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN
  • Star Tribune
  • February 23, 2014 - 12:39 AM

Jerry Kill was the lowest-paid football coach in the Big Ten last season, but after leading the Gophers to their best finish since 2003, he’s about to double his salary.

The Gophers announced Saturday that they have restructured Kill’s contract, extending it by one year — through the 2018 season — and raising his salary from $1.2 million last year to an average of $2.3 million over the deal.

Kill’s contract will pay him $2.1 million this season — a 75 percent raise from the 2013 campaign — and his salary will increase by $100,000 each year through the 2018 season.

The deal is a sign of the faith the Gophers have in Kill, whose teams have gone 3-9, 6-7 and 8-5 in his first three seasons.

Kill, 52, has epilepsy and has missed parts of four Gophers games in three seasons because of seizures. He took a two-week leave last October after missing the Michigan game, and coached from the press box until returning to the sideline for the second half of the team’s bowl game.

But University President Eric Kaler and athletic director Norwood Teague never have wavered in their support.

“Coach Kill is proving his model works here at the University of Minnesota,” Teague said in a news release. “It is right to support him as he builds a program that will make the state of Minnesota proud.”

In his statement, Kill thanked Teague and Kaler for their support.

“I am extremely proud of what our players and coaches accomplished on and off the field last season,” he said in the statement. “We still have a lot of work to do but are moving the program in the right direction.

“I look forward to continuing to build a program that positively represents the great people of Minnesota and am excited to work with our players again when we start spring practice in early March.”

University officials said Kill and Teague were unavailable for further comment.

Kill’s $2.1 million salary next season still will rank no higher than eighth in a 14-team Big Ten, including new members Rutgers and Maryland.

That list is topped by Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($4.6 million), Michigan’s Brady Hoke ($4.25 million) and Penn State’s James Franklin ($4.25 million).

When Purdue hired Darrell Hazell away from Kent State in late 2012, the school started his salary at $2.16 million. Teague had long hinted at a coming raise for Kill.

Kill has often touted the importance of taking care of his assistants, several of whom have been with him for more than a decade.

Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys and the other assistant coaches received raises last year. Kill’s new contract has language that guarantees the team’s assistant coaches’ salary pool will rank in the top six of the Big Ten.

The contract stipulates that Kill still would be paid $600,000 per season over the remaining the life of his contract if he is fired without cause.

Likewise, if he leaves to become a head coach in the NFL or at another Division I school, he would owe the university $600,000 per season over the life of the deal.

“Jerry Kill is the right coach for the University of Minnesota, ” Kaler said in the news release. “He has clearly moved our program forward, and I am pleased we have come to this agreement to secure his long-term leadership of Gopher football.”

© 2014 Star Tribune