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Minnesota coach Jerry Kill taking time off to focus on managing epilepsy

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is taking some time off to focus on managing his epilepsy, the school announced Thursday.

Kill's longtime assistant, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, will serve as acting coach until Kill returns just as he did last week at Michigan when Kill missed the game because of a seizure he suffered early Saturday morning. It was the first time Kill's epilepsy has forced him to miss an game. He has missed parts of three other games in which he suffered seizures during the game.

The press release Minnesota issued with the announcement said Kill was 'taking time' but stopped short of calling it a leave of absence or giving any timetable for a return. Athletic director Norwood Teague said Kill would be in close communication with his staff while he is away and didn't offer any clarification on the time Kill might miss during an afternoon press conference.

"I think over period of time he decided let's look into this deeper and see what we can come up with," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted Teague saying during the press conference.

Kill is 52 years old and has been dealing with epilepsy since at least the early 2000s when he coached at Southern Illinois. His seizure last week was the second on a game day this season, which

“My wife Rebecca, myself and our two daughters want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns during the last few weeks," Kill said in a statement." This was a difficult decision to make, but the right decision. Our staff has been together a long time and I have full confidence in Coach Claeys and them during my time away. Every decision that will be made will be in the best interest of the players and the program. I look forward to returning to the Minnesota sideline on a full-time basis soon.”

Kill might not miss another game because the Gophers are idle this week after two straight losses to Iowa and Michigan. Minnesota is 4-2 and doesn't return to action until Oct. 19 when it plays at Northwestern.

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