Virginia Tech adds former head coach Jerry Kill to staff

Image: WDBJ7
By  | 

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Head coach Justin Fuente announced Monday that former FBS head coach Jerry Kill has joined the Virginia Tech Football staff as special assistant to the head coach. Kill most recently served as director of athletics and special assistant to the chancellor at Southern Illinois University, a position he accepted in 2018.

In this newly-created role at Virginia Tech, Kill will assist Fuente with a myriad of duties.

“Jerry Kill will serve as a tremendous resource for our football program,” Fuente said. “Coach Kill possesses over three decades of expertise and will be great addition to our staff. In addition to over 20 years of experience as collegiate and high school head coach, he’s served as a coordinator on both sides of the ball. He can dissect the game from virtually every angle and will be able to provide his unique perspective on everything from recruiting, to personnel and facilities.

“After Coach Kill spent some time with our staff during preseason camp, it was apparent that he possesses a passion for being involved with a football program on a daily basis,” Fuente continued. “I have all the respect in the world for Coach Kill. I’m excited that he’ll be an integral part of our program at Virginia Tech and can’t wait for him to get on campus.”

Minnesota hired Kill as its head coach in 2011 in hopes of resurrecting its struggling football program. Kill was more than up to the task, leading the Gophers to three bowl games. That postseason run was highlighted by a berth in the Citrus Bowl following the 2014 season, marking Minnesota’s first New Year’s Day bowl game since 1962. For his efforts, Kill was voted a consensus selection as the Big Ten's Coach of the Year.

“While it was a difficult decision to leave so many wonderful friends and colleagues at Southern Illinois, I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Coach Fuente and his staff at Virginia Tech,” Kill said. “I’ve long appreciated and admired Justin as a coach and teacher of the game. I respect his penchant for identifying talent and helping young men reach their potential. He has assembled a fabulous coaching staff and roster of talented players at Virginia Tech. I can’t wait to help the Hokies in any way I can.”

As head coach at Southern Illinois from 2001-07, he led the Salukis to five straight NCAA playoff appearances, earning the prestigious Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award in 2004 and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award in 2007. He then served as head coach at Northern Illinois from 2008-10, earning the Grant Teaff FCA Coach of the Year Award in 2010 after guiding the Huskies to a 10-3 record.

A 1983 graduate of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, he played linebacker and won the team’s most inspirational award. He quickly ascended through the coaching ranks with stops at NCAA Division II Pittsburg State, Saginaw Valley State and Emporia State. At Pittsburg State, he had stints as both offensive and defensive coordinator and helped lead the Gorillas to the DII championship game twice, including the 1991 national title. Sandwiched between his stints at Pittsburg State, Kill was the head coach at Webb City (Mo.) High School. He was 25-1 in two seasons at Webb City and won a state championship in 1989.

Southern Illinois had endured nine-straight losing seasons when Kill arrived in 2001, attendance was at an all-time low, and decrepit McAndrew Stadium was beyond repair. The Salukis went 1-10 during Kill’s first year, but two years later in 2003, he and his staff of loyal assistants were sitting atop the Gateway Conference with a 10-2 record and the school’s first playoff appearance in 20 years. From 2003-09, SIU went 70-19 overall and 42-8 in conference play. Southern Illinois became the first league school to beat a Big Ten opponent when it toppled Indiana in 2006, and earned another FBS win the following year at Northern Illinois. SIU spent 99 consecutive weeks in the FCS Top 25. including 18 weeks during 2004 and 2005.

His success at Southern led him to Northern Illinois, where he guided the Huskies to 23 wins in three seasons (2008-10), three straight bowl games and a berth in the Mid-American Conference Championship game in 2010.

Kill briefly stepped away from coaching in 2016, serving as associate athletics director for administration at Kansas State, before returning to the sidelines as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers in 2017 and then returning to Southern Illinois as director of athletics in 2018.

Kill has dealt with epilepsy for much of his adult life, serving as an advocate for others with the condition and earning wide-spread respect and national attention. He chronicled his experiences as a coach in a 2016 book, “Chasing Dreams: Living My Life One Yard at a Time.”

In addition to his many coaching awards, Kill has a long list of civic honors, stemming from his public advocacy for worthy causes, such as the Coach Kill Fund that he started in Southern Illinois while coaching at SIU, and the Chasing Dreams Coach Kill Epilepsy Fund he began while at Minnesota. He has been the recipient of the National Football Foundation Courage Award (2009), Cal Stoll Courage Award (2014), Bob McNamara Memorial Legends Award (2015) and the FCA Power of Influence Award (2016). He continues to help raise money for research for the National Foundation of Epilepsy and was the inaugural recipient of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota’s Coach Kill Award in 2016.

Kill is a member of Hall of Fames at Southern Illinois, Southwestern College and Kansas Sports. He and his wife, Rebecca, have two daughters, Krystal and Tasha. Tasha and her husband Jason Hynes are the parents of the Kill’s granddaughter, Emery.