It’s Official: P.J. Fleck Leaving Western Michigan For Minnesota
P.J. can’t legally row his boat to Minnesota, but he can coach there. Western Michigan’s red hot football coach has finalized a deal to coach in the Big Ten next season for the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers.
After three days of deflecting rumors, it turns out last night’s reports by various news organizations is correct, and Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck has accepted the coaching position at the University of Minnesota.
Fleck appeared ready to return to WMU after removing his name from contention for job openings at Purdue and Cincinnati. But then Tracy Claeys was fired at Minnesota, and Fleck’s name popped to the top of their list.
After 72 hours of negotiations, it appears both sides have agreed to a deal which would make Fleck around $3.5 million dollars a year. Fleck made a little over $800,000 last year at Western, and was expected to up that to over $1 million this season.
The main reason the Minnesota job stood out above the rebuilding jobs at Purdue and Cincinnati is that the Gophers will be returning many starters this season from a team that went 9-4 in 2016, with a Holiday Bowl win over Washington State.
Claeys was let go for supporting a team boycott after the University suspended several players for the Holiday Bowl. It was not a popular decision with many Gopher fans.
WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beaureguard has officially acknowledged Fleck’s leaving on her Twitter feed. She will comment today at noon.
WMU has been informed of PJ Fleck’s intention to accept the Minnesota job.We will hold a noon press conference in Seelye
— Kathy Beauregard (@BeauregardKathy) January 6, 2017
Fleck will not be able to retain his famed ‘Row The Boat’ mantra at Minnesota, unless he wants to pay for it. WMU copyrighted the phrase during its undefeated run to the MAC title in 2016. Western finished 13-1 after losing to Wisconsin of the Big Ten in the Cotton Bowl.