Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague addressed the media Monday morning in the wake of head football coach Jerry Kill’s on-field seizure on Saturday, reiterating that he supports the coach “100 percent.”
Teague made it clear that Kill’s battle with epilepsy – a condition that affects 3 million Americans – is an “ongoing process” and said he has no concerns about Kill’s ability to lead the team.
“I have full faith that we can move forward with the program,” Teague said, adding later: "What I go back to is that I support him 100 percent. He's an epileptic. He has seizures. We deal with it and we move on. If I felt like it was affecting things, it would be different."
Kill had this third on-field seizure in his two-plus seasons as Gophers coach. He was taken away on a stretcher at halftime and missed the rest of the 29-12 victory over Western Illinois, though he was home about two hours after the game ended following a brief hospital stay.
Teague said Kill was expected to be at work on Monday and said he had communicated with his head coach. Kill is slated to be at his regular Tuesday news conference.
"Over the last day and a half I’ve had some time to reflect on Jerry and his situation and the football program," Teague said. "Having said that, I believe more than ever that he truly represents what’s great about college athletics, and he is a tremendous role model for our student athletes."
Kill said in an August story -- one that took a deep look into his battle with epilepsy, including much of the work he has done as a spokesman -- that he continues to wrestle with the condition and its effects
“You can’t be the head football coach and miss half of a game. I mean, I’m not stupid, I realize that," he said in the story, referring to last year's game against Michigan State when he had a seizure at halftime. "If I was doing those things, the university wouldn’t have to fire me. I’d walk away if I didn’t think I could do it. But that won’t happen because you’re talking to a guy that wasn’t supposed to be here anyway.”
Teague brushed aside critics who say Kill can't be an effective coach if he continues to miss time on game days.
"Jerry’s job is so much more than just Saturdays," Teague said. "And as I’ve said before, the way he manages our program during the week when I see him and work with him daily, the decisions that he makes – how they recruit, how he works with his assistants who have been with him longer than any Division I program history – that is so much of where the true work is done."
While stress can be a contributing factor in triggering seizures, it is not known if that is the case with Kill. Teague was asked if Kill might benefit from a move to the coaches' box above the field, where coordinators often do their work.
"That's fully up to Jerry. He's the head coach. Wherever he wants to coach, whether it's the box or the field, I fully support that," Teague said. "He knows more about football than all of us in this room combined. He knows how to communicate it and how to coach it. So that's up to him. I know that some coaches have coached up in the box for other reasons. It's up to Jerry."
And what is the end game in all of this?
"I think the end game for us is to keep doing our day job and to stay strong in what we’re doing," Teague said. "Jerry just keep doing what he’s doing as far as allowing his doctors to work with him."