Minnesota signs head coach Tracy Claeys to three-year deal

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Minnesota put an end to its search for a new head coach on Wednesday, as interim athletics director Beth Goetz announced a three-year deal for Tracy Claeys.

Claeys' deal calls for a $1.4 million salary next year, with $100,000 raises in each of the following two years, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The decision comes two weeks after Jerry Kill resigned for health reasons. Claeys was immediately selected to serve as the interim head coach, and quickly had the interim tag removed.

"I've gotten to know and respect Coach Claeys this past year and watched him work with our student-athletes each and every day," Goetz said in a statement. "I admire his dedication to their development on the field and in the classroom. Given the improvement of this program, both academically and athletically, and Coach Claeys' integral leadership role, we have great confidence that he is the right coach to lead this program and our student-athletes."

The Golden Gophers nearly pulled off an upset vs. Michigan in the first game after Kill's resignation, and lost to Ohio State, 28-14, last weekend.

Claeys, 46, was previously the team's defensive coordinator and served as the team's acting head coach for seven games in 2013 when Kill, who has epilepsy, stepped away to tend to his health (UM went 4-3 in those seven games). Claeys had served on Kill's staff for 21 years over five different coaching stops.

"The circumstances of the past few weeks have been unpredictable," Claeys said in a statement. "This certainly is not the way anyone wants to become a head coach. Coach Kill is one of my best friends and I am thankful that he took a chance on me 21 years ago. I am looking forward to continuing what we have built at Minnesota, but will do so in my own way. One thing that won't change will be our relentless pursuit to field a team that will make the state of Minnesota proud."

While Minnesota has lost its two games since Kill resigned, Claeys has shown he can lead the program through difficult circumstances and certainly commands respect from the team. Claeys had asked that decision be made regarding his future by mid-November to minimize the impact that a coaching change would have on recruiting, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Minnesota (4-5) visits No. 5 Iowa (9-0) on Saturday.

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