Former SIU football coach Jerry Kill takes job at Kansas State

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Former SIU football coach Jerry Kill takes job at Kansas State

By Marcus R. Fuller, Pioneer Press

Seven months after announcing his retirement as coach at the University of Minnesota, former Saluki football coach Jerry Kill has joined Kansas State as an associate athletics director. 

“I know my coaching career is over, and I understand that, but I just can’t sit around and look at a lake and roll my fingers,” Kill said Tuesday during a conference call.

Kill retired midseason last year to manage seizures related to epilepsy when doctors told him it was in his best interest to stop coaching after 32 years. He has been living with his wife, Rebecca, at their lake home in southern Illinois.

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A Kansas native, Kill will be paid $150,000 to work in a supportive role to longtime football coach Bill Snyder, in his second stint with the Wildcats after rebuilding the program in the 1990s. Kill has a one-year deal, but Kansas State athletics director John Currie said Tuesday, “We do anticipate rolling it over many times.”

The Salukis went 55-32 in seven seasons from 2001-2007 with Kill. During his tenure at SIU, he coached current Saluki head football coach Nick Hill for four seasons.

“I wouldn’t be a college coach if it weren’t for him,” Hill said. “He made me believe in myself. Without Jerry Kill, I am not the person I am today.”

Kill led Minnesota to a 29-29 record in five seasons, including three straight bowl games. He was Big Ten coach of the year in 2014 after leading the Gophers to within one victory of conference title game. With a Citrus Bowl berth that season, Minnesota snapped the program’s 52-year drought of playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for the University of Minnesota and what they did for me,” Kill said Tuesday. “I still have my [Chasing Dreams Coach Kill Epilepsy Fund] there and am certainly going to make that bigger and better. Any time that I can help the university, I certainly will, but this is my new university and I’ve got to do my job here. I will, however, always be loyal to the University of Minnesota.”

He was succeeded by his longtime defensive coordinator, Tracy Claeys, who received a three-year contract in November and went 2-2 to end the season.

Kill said he had several options after leaving Minnesota and the Kansas State position was “the best situation for me. … It’s exactly what I need to be doing in the second chapter of my life.”

His Minnesota contract included a job in the athletics department should he step down from coaching, after a series of seizures disrupted his tenure. He spoke to University President Eric Kaler in February, but the two couldn’t agree on a position for Kill. Offered a job as a fundraiser, speaker and teacher, Kill declined. He wanted to remain in the athletics department.

Kill said he assumed Kaler wanted to give Claeys the space to run his own program.

“I think he didn’t want me that close,” Kill said. “Let me be away from it and give [Claeys] an opportunity, which is [Kaler’s] call, not mine.”

Several former Gophers football players expressed dismay that Kill didn’t get the job he wanted at Minnesota.

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