Jerry Kill rips Minnesota: I won't step back in the stadium again

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday January 04, 2017


Photo credit: TwinCities.com

Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill says he won’t step on the campus again after the dismissal of Tracy Claeys and the handling of the fallout from a Title IX sexual assault investigation.

Claeys was an assistant under Kill for more than 20 years at several stops. He replaced Kill at Minnesota in fall 2015 when Kill stepped down due to health issues. Claeys was dismissed on Tuesday amid the investigation and Claeys’ public support of a player boycott after initially agreeing with the school’s discipline of several players.

Kill was Minnesota’s head coach from 2011-15. He’s now Rutgers’ offensive coordinator, but Rutgers doesn’t travel to Minnesota until at least 2020. He joined 1500 ESPN Twin Cities for a long interview about the change. Kill said when he stepped down that he'd be a Gopher for life. A little more than a year later, that's all changed.

“All the good things that have happened through the football program, I hope they don’t forget that,” Kill said of his tenure. “I certainly haven’t forgotten the state of Minnesota. A lot of people around continue to raise money for epilepsy foundation, cancer and anybody else I can help. But I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed in how this was handled.

If I’m at Rutgers still, whatever, but I won’t be stepping back in that stadium, and I won’t be stepping back at the university. My wife and I, we will not. We gave our best to the state of Minnesota. We’ll always come to Minnesota. My daughter’s there. We love Minnesota, and I’ll go to every baseball game, pro football game, anything else, but I will not ever be in that stadium or that complex — they’re building a new one, we had a lot to do with that. I won’t ever see it. I wish them all the luck in the world.

Kill was most upset by athletic director Mark Coyle’s comments about the culture and social aspects of the program, saying he felt like he was blamed for things when it was turned around in his tenure, and since Coyle has only been there for a few months. If they wanted to dismiss Claeys, that was one thing, but the comments after irked Kill, as did waiting so long after the bowl game to make a decision. 

“(Claeys) says to me, ‘Hey, if they fire me, they don’t want me to be there, don’t think I ran the program good enough and can get somebody better, that’s OK. That’s their prerogative. I’ll move and go somewhere it’s warmer,’” Kill recalled. “That’s fine. But when you go publicly at a news conference and talk about the class of people and integrity of people, that kind of stuff, (that’s different).”

Charges weren't filed against players, but Coyle emphasized that the school's process and discipline are different. Kill said the investigation should have been handled better, and the incident with players obviously shouldn’t have happened. He also said the situation illustrates a need he saw for school leadership to address a variety of issues on campus, including racial and cultural issues. He felt Claeys was thrown under the bus despite larger cultural issues at the school.

The last question of the interview was about P.J. Fleck, who is speculated for the job and is a former Kill assistant at Northern Illinois. Kill wasn’t going there.

“I’m not going to talk about that. I’m not going to get into any of that and who’s coaching. There are some things done wrong that shouldn’t have. I’m not going to go there. Whatever coach they get, they get.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.