Minneapolis, MN, United States (4E Sports) – University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill has shrugged off accusations thrown at him by junior wide receiver A.J. Barker, who earlier quit the Gophers due to the mentor’s alleged abusive and manipulative behavior.
“I feel bad for A.J. I feel bad that’s the way he feels about the situation,” Kill said in a news conference in response to Barker’s series of media interviews after leaving the team.”But I don’t treat my players any differently than I treat my own two daughters.”
After quitting the team Sunday, Barker issued a 4,000-word statement that was e-mailed to different media organizations, criticizing Kill’s manipulative and abusive behavior.
Kill explained that he interceded during practice last Thursday when he noticed Barker having a confrontation with the team’s athletic trainer.
“I called A.J. over and let him know I wasn’t very happy. … Players have to do all the things we ask all our players to do,” Kill said.
Kill said Barker refused to follow the trainers’ instructions for treating the ankle injury that had kept him out of action for three weeks, adding he “very vividly” made it clear that attitude was unacceptable.
“You do not talk to an adult or someone of authority in that voice,” Kill said.
After practice, Kill said he had another 20-minute conversation with the 21-year-old receiver, emphasizing the value of following instructions in a man’s success.
However, Barker called the second conversation as “particularly offensive”, saying it was an attempt to manipulate and deceive him.
Kill said he tried to contact Barker since the story became public, but has not spoken to the receiver.
The coach also defended his methods as a disciplinarian, saying he has saved many lives with his approach.
“When you have a roster of 120 players, to keep them all happy isn’t possible. I’m not here for a popularity contest,” Kill said.
In a radio interview, Barker said he was particularly upset that Kill had not awarded him a scholarship for his strong play, leading the team with 30 catches and seven touchdowns this season.
Kill explained that the football team’s 85 scholarships have to be awarded by the first day of classes, and the Gophers had played only one game by that time — a 30-27 victory over UNLV in which Barker caught three passes for 101 yards.