Mike Carter, USA TODAY

Tracy Claeys named full-time head coach

Minnesota has signed Tracy Claeys to a three year contract extension

University of Minnesota Interim Athletics Director Beth Goetz announced today that the University and Tracy Claeys have signed a three-year contract to make Claeys the head coach of the Golden Gopher football program. 


Claeys and Goetz will be available to the media at 10 a.m. today in the TCF Bank Stadium media interview room located near the Dodge County entrance. Claeys’ contract will be available at that time as well. 


Claeys succeeds his good friend Jerry Kill, who resigned his position on Oct. 28, 2015, due to health reasons. 


Claeys served on Kill’s staff for 21 years and was named Interim Head Coach following Kill’s resignation in late October. In that capacity, Claeys led the Gophers against No. 15 Michigan and No. 1 Ohio State the past two weeks.  


The Clay Center, Kan., native initially joined the Minnesota staff on Dec. 10, 2010, when Kill hired him as defensive coordinator. 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 (top college assistant coach) in each of the past two seasons and was promoted to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2014 season. 


As defensive coordinator at Minnesota, Claeys has transformed the Gopher defense into one of the best in the Big Ten. 


Minnesota allowed 380 points in 2011 and 321 points in 2012. In 2013, its third season under Claeys’ leadership, the Gopher defense allowed only 289 points. It marked the first time that Minnesota allowed fewer than 300 points in a full season since 2004.


In 2013, Minnesota ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 25th in the nation by allowing only 22.2 points per game. The Gophers were at their best when it mattered most. The defense led the Big Ten and finished 15th nationally in red zone defense. Minnesota opponents scored on just 74 percent of their trips inside the 20.


Last season, Minnesota allowed 314 points (24.2 points per game) to rank sixth in the Big Ten and tied for 33rd nationally. The defense's 15 fumble recoveries and 15 interceptions helped Minnesota to a plus-10 turnover margin (second in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation).


The Gophers have held 27 of their last 35 opponents below their scoring average. In 18 of those games, Minnesota held it opposition to eight or more points below their season average and in seven games the Gophers held this opponents to 14 or more points below their season average.

Interim Athletics Director Beth Goetz
I’ve gotten to know and respect Coach Claeys this past year and watched him work with our student-athletes each and every day. 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.

Head Coach Tracy Claeys
I want to thank President Eric Kaler, Interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz, the Board of Regents and the University for believing in me and providing me with this opportunity. The circumstances of the past few weeks have been unpredictable. 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. We have tremendous fans and they deserve a highly competitive football team. Our student-athletes will play smart, tough and accountable football and will be held to the highest standards on and off the field. 

President Eric W. Kaler
Tracy Claeys is the right person for this important job. I applaud and fully support Interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz’s decision to bring continuity and stability to our football program, which is clearly on an upward trajectory. I have great confidence in Coach Claeys and his staff to recruit talent and excellent student-athletes while building on a strong foundation. But make no mistake, Tracy Claeys is his own man and will bring his own energy and commitment to excellence while embracing Gopher Athletics’ culture of compliance, both on and off the field.


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