U’s Kill in Mayo Clinic after another seizure

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 26, 2011 - 12:26 PM

The U football coach checked into the Mayo Clinic following another seizure Sunday morning.

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Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill watched his team at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 17, 2011.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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One more seizure was one too many for Jerry Kill.

The Gophers football coach suffered another seizure Sunday morning, and despite his vow last week to keep working even as the problem recurred more than 20 times, Kill decided to take steps to get the seizures under control.

After being examined by team physician Dr. Pat Smith, Kill left the team and checked himself into Mayo Clinic in Rochester for further treatment.

"Rebecca and I have made the decision to do what it takes to find a solution," Kill, referring to his wife of 29 years, said in a statement released by the university. "I hope to be back to work soon, but we believe that taking some time away to get a handle on this is the right thing to do."

Smith cannot predict how long Kill, who was in good condition with strong vital signs after his latest seizure, will remain hospitalized, the statement said. The Gophers, who fell to 1-3 Saturday with a 37-24 loss to North Dakota State, are scheduled to open Big Ten play at Michigan on Saturday. Kill has been hospitalized during the football season in six of the past 12 years but has never missed a game.

Kill, who has been afflicted with a seizure disorder for nearly two decades, was stricken with a major seizure on the sidelines of TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 10 during the Gophers' loss to New Mexico State. He remained hospitalized for five days before returning to work.

But though his symptoms became less traumatic, the seizures did not cease. Kill disclosed Tuesday that he had suffered multiple seizures in the hospital and that they continued even after his release. He had experienced few seizures over the previous five years, but his new doctors, he said, had not yet found a combination of medication that would similarly control his condition.

Not that he would allow it to keep him from coaching his team.

"I ain't changing," Kill said last Tuesday of his determination to work "between the seizures," as he put it. "What the hell am I supposed to do? Stop? I mean, sit in the chair and wait for the next God-dang seizure to come along? I've had about 20 of them in the last six damn days, and I'm still walking, still coaching."

Kill also mentioned more than once that his wife opposed his rush to return to work and didn't want him to attend the Gophers' Sept. 17 game, a victory over Miami (Ohio). Sunday's episode, the morning after another stressful loss, may have helped him come to the same conclusion.

"The seizures continue to be a concern for me and my family," Kill said in the statement.

The Gophers held team meetings and film sessions and conducted practice as usual Sunday, with Kill's longtime coordinators, Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys, in charge. If Kill was unable to attend a game, Limegrover said following the initial seizure, Claeys would make decisions as the head coach.

"I have full confidence that our football staff will get the team prepared while Jerry is away," Joel Maturi, who hired Kill last December to replace Tim Brewster, said through the university's statement. Maturi was traveling Sunday, the university said, and was unavailable for comment.

"We all want him back on the sidelines," Maturi said. "But it's time to find a resolution."

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