Neurologist: Blaming Kill's stressful job for his game-day seizures is 'ridiculous'

Jerry Kill
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill works the sideline against Northwestern during an NCAA football game in Minneapolis in October 2012.
Andy King/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Solely blaming University of Minnesota football Coach Jerry Kill's stressful job for his game-day seizures is "ridiculous," said Dr. Kathleen Rieke, neurologist with CentraCare Clinic in St. Cloud, on The Daily Circuit Tuesday.

Kill has had a seizure during a game in each of his three seasons as coach.

"When it comes to seizures, certainly increased stress can be a trigger," Rieke said. "Particularly lack of sleep, poor diet, poor exercise associated with that stress can be an issue. But stress is a normal part of life. We all have stress from raising kids and work and day-to-day activities."

After his seizure Saturday, Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan wrote a piece suggesting Kill isn't healthy enough to coach.

"Either the stress of the job is further damaging his health, or his health was in such disrepair that he shouldn't have been hired to coach in the Big Ten in the first place," Souhan wrote.

Star Tribune Editor Nancy Barnes apologized for the piece Tuesday.

"In no way did we intend to suggest that people with epilepsy, or other disabilities, should be hidden away," she wrote. "Nor did we intend to be callous or insensitive to their struggles."

Rieke said Kill has taken many steps to improve his overall health and he can't be blamed for the ongoing epileptic seizures. About 10 to 15 percent of people still have seizures despite the best medical care and medication, she said.

"I don't think his epilepsy should have any impact on whether or not he keeps his job," Rieke said. "What we should be looking at is how is he coaching, how is the team doing?"

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