Jerry Kill, who spent three seasons as head coach at NIU before going on to a successful head coaching career at the University of Minnesota, will return to campus as the keynote speaker for the 2017 Victor E. Ball, NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier announced Wednesday.
Kill coached the Huskies from 2008 until 2010, compiling a 23-16 win-loss record and leading NIU to three bowl games. His 2008 team’s appearance in the Independence Bowl began a school and MAC record string of eight consecutive bowl seasons. He led the 2010 NIU squad to a 10-3 record, the MAC West title and the school’ first appearance in the MAC championship game since 1983. It was the first of a Football Bowl Subdivision record of six straight championship game appearances under three different head coaches for the Huskies.
The Victor E. Ball, NIU Athletics’ premier fundraising event, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, in the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center, which will be transformed into an elegant venue for this one-of-a-kind evening. The night begins in the Barsema Hall of Champions with a reception and silent auction before moving inside the Chessick Practice Center for dinner, the program, a live auction and dancing. Chicago comedian Adam Grabowski will emcee the event. Both Jordan Lynch and Huskie great Michael Turner will attend as special guests.
Registration is available online now for individual tickets or a table. Additional support opportunities, including the ability to underwrite a student-athlete’s attendance at the event, are also available.
“I’m extremely excited to have coach Kill return as the keynote speaker for this year’s Victor E. Ball, the most important fundraising event of the year for Huskie Athletics,” Frazier said. “He is a part of NIU’s tradition and history and helped build the winning culture that still exists today.
“I really admire the way he has overcome adversity throughout his life, and I love his passion for intercollegiate athletics and the game of college football. I’m looking forward to having Huskie fans and supporters attend the Victor E. Ball to hear firsthand Jerry’s inspiring story and message.”
During his time at NIU, Kill coached Vern Smith Award (MAC MVP) winners Larry English (the highest draft choice in school history), Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish. He recruited and coached NFL first-round draft choice and All-American safety Jimmie Ward and a freshman named Lynch, who would go on to become a two-time All-American and finish third in the 2013 Heisman Trophy balloting.
Kill left NIU for Minnesota, where he compiled a 29-29 record in 4 1/2 seasons and led the Gophers to three bowl games, including the 2014 Citrus Bowl. Minnesota tied for second in the Big Ten’s West Division that season. Kill was named the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year by the conference’s coaches and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year by the media. During his time at Minnesota, Kill recruited eight players that were selected in the NFL draft, including four picks in 2015 – the most for a Gophers team in a single draft since 2006.
He resigned from his post in 2015 as the result of his ongoing battle with epilepsy, a struggle that became public during his time as UM’s head coach. He has become a spokesperson for the disease and was honored by the Epilepsy Foundation with the Hero of Epilepsy Award in 2016. He was also inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame last year while serving as an associate athletic director at Kansas State University.
Kill returned to college coaching on Dec. 19, 2016, when he was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers University.
Through a new partnership, anyone who purchases or has purchased a ticket or a table for the 2017 Victor E. Ball will receive either a one-day pass (for a single ticket) or a weekly pass (for a table) to the NCAA Experience at the 2017 NCAA golf championships at Rich Harvest Farms Golf Course this May in Sugar Grove. The NCAA Experience is an exclusive VIP area with food and drinks, covered seating, video monitors and more. As the host school for the golf championships, NIU is making this unique opportunity available. For more information on the NCAA Experience and the 2017 NCAA golf championships, click here.