MINNEAPOLIS - Despite collapsing during Saturday's win over Western Illinois after suffering a major seizure, the third such incident since he began coaching at the University of Minnesota, Gophers Athletic Director Norwood Teague says he is standing by Jerry Kill as his football coach.
Teague met with reporters to answer questions for the first time since Kill collapsed and was rushed to the hospital at halftime of Saturday's game.
"Jerry is our coach, and we're 100 percent behind him," Teague said, leaving little doubt that the U of M will not make changes to the coaching staff despite ongoing concerns about Kill's health.
The coach has been diagnosed with epilepsy and has worked hard to make lifestyle changes and improve his health since first collapsing against New Mexico State two years ago. Still, the stress of game days seems to be a trigger for seizures and some have opined that Kill should step down, both for his own health and for the good of the University.
"I believe more than ever he represents what is great about college athletics," Teague insisted.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN) agrees. On Monday morning the EFMN released a statement, saying the organization is disappointed with calls for Kill to step down.
"To question Coach Kill's abilities illuminates the need for more education around seizures," said EFMN executive director Vicki Kopplin. "Coach Kill is a man of integrity and character, and his bravery and strength while dealing with seizures should be celebrated, not scrutinized. He's spent time with hundreds of kids with epilepsy over the last year, and seeing his sheer determination will sustain many of them through school bullying, health setbacks and the stigma they too face."
The EFMN says Coach Kill is just one of 60,000 Minnesotans who live with the unpredictable nature of seizures every day.
"People with epilepsy are no less deserving of a chasing their dreams and realizing success - they just need to have a plan for if a seizure were to happen," the EFMN said in a statement. "Coach Kill has a plan and players and coaches alike share a basic understanding that if seizures happen, life goes on."
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)