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Claeys named Gophers head football coach

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Tracy Claeys and Beth Goetz
Tracy Claeys, who was named Gophers interim head coach after Jerry Kill's resignation last month, signed a three-year contract as head coach. Claeys and interim athletic director Beth Goetz discussed his new role during a news conference Wednesday.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Updated: 10:20 a.m. | Posted: 7:33 a.m. 

The University of Minnesota announced Wednesday that it has hired Tracy Claeys as head coach of the Gophers football team. 

Claeys, who was named interim head coach following Jerry Kill's resignation last month over health concerns, signed a three-year contract. He called it an honor to follow Kill.

"Our kids have done a tremendous job, we'll continue to build on the same principles," including the importance of education and competing for a Big Ten championship, Claeys told reporters Wednesday after the university announced the deal.

Claeys worked as an assistant coach for Kill for more than 20 years, starting at Saginaw Valley State in Michigan. He served as defensive coordinator for most of his career.

The Clay Center, Kan., native joined the Minnesota staff on Dec. 10, 2010, when Kill hired him as defensive coordinator. 

Tracy Claeys
University of Minnesota interim head football coach Tracy Claeys answered questions from reporters after the retirement of Coach Jerry Kill on Oct. 28.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Claeys was Minnesota's acting head coach in 2013 for seven games and led the Gophers to a 4-3 mark, which included consecutive wins against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. It was the first time since 1973 that Minnesota won four straight conference games in the same season. 

Claeys, 46, was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award (which honors the top college assistant coach) in each of the past two seasons and was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2014 season.

Interim athletics director Beth Goetz said officials decided to hire Claeys after reviewing his career, which includes a stint as temporary head coach of the Gophers in 2013 with a 4-3 record.

"We know that Coach Claeys and his staff will continue to recruit talent and develop excellent young men, both on and off the field, while building on Jerry Kill's strong foundation," Goetz said. "I strongly believe we have a head coach and staff to continue the momentum and build a successful Big Ten football program long into the future."

Goetz said university officials weighed their options for the last few weeks before settling on Claeys as coach. He wasn't even represented by an agent during contract negotiations.

"I wanted the opportunity to be the head football coach here," Claeys said. "There was no need for an agent, no need for anything else — we got it done."

Contract: Tracy Claeys named head coach