Jerry Kill is back at SIU.
The former Saluki head football coach was introduced Tuesday an ambassador and fundraiser for the athletic department.
Kill says now is a good time for him to come back because of the challenges facing SIU-Carbondale.
"I had other opportunities in football and things off the field. But, I felt like this one gave me the opportunity to really step in and make a difference."
Kill says school leaders have to be on the same page and promote the quality education offered by SIU-C.
"I'm going to be honest. I'll say, 'hey, we got a long way to go.' But, at the same time, the more positive we are about it and the more positive we are in the region, the better we're going to get."
SIU-C Chancellor Carlo Montemagno says Kill's appointment as his special assistant will mean more than money. He says it will help reconnect the university with the community.
"He is a direct connection with how the university was. So, my feeling is by having him here, people remember how the university was, then they're going to work with us as we take the way the university is going to be again in the future. We are the people's university. We are the university of southern Illinois. We lost a little bit of that strength of bond that we had together. This is going to reinforce that bond, which is extraordinarily powerful. It's priceless."
SIU-C director of athletics Tommy Bell says this will allow his department to ramp up its fundraising project, especially for football.
"We've identified a lot of areas that we want to work from. But, with Coach Kill's affiliation here, we now can accelerate that project a little bit faster and move things and make things happen."
Epilepsy has interrupted Kill's coaching career over the years. He says he'll closely monitor his health.
"I kind of know my level where if I have to take a couple of days, I'll take a couple of days. But, I'm not coming in here for a part-time job. I'm coming in here to work like everybody else does and I don't want to be treated any differently."
Kill says he will begin his new duties in mid-March in order to give him some time to rest.
Montemagno says Kill's salary of 140-thousand dollars a year will come from the SIU Foundation.
Kill left SIU to serve as head coach at Northern Illinois University from 2008 to 2010.
He went on to become head coach at the University of Minnesota from 2011 to 2015.
Kill served as associate athletic director at Kansas State University in 2016 and offensive coordinator at Rutgers University in 2017, retiring from coaching in December due to health issues.