Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck signs new 7-year contract
Fleck has an overall record of 42-27 in six seasons at Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota and P.J. Fleck have agreed to a new contract, the school said Wednesday, Dec. 7.
The Gophers head football coach has received almost annual extensions, and this new deal doesn’t deviate much from previous contracts. In November 2021, Fleck signed a 7-year contract extension that increased his annual salary to $5 million.
Fleck will receive a $1 million raise to roughly $6 million per year, a source told the Pioneer Press. The term remains at seven years and now ends in December 2029.
The full contract, which needs to be approved by the university’s Board of Regents, is not expected to be available until Thursday. The news was first reported by The Athletic.
The Gophers are coming off a 8-4 regular season, which was above the program’s historical average record over the past 50 years but below the prime opportunity they had to win the Big Ten West division and play in the conference championship game.
Losses to Purdue, Illinois and Iowa cost Minnesota a division title, but the Gophers beat Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan’s Axe in consecutive seasons for the first time in nearly 30 years.
After beating the Badgers, Fleck said, “I told our team in there … “I know our plan ‘A’ of winning the West necessarily didn’t happen, but they call it the ‘wild, wild West’ for a reason. Illinois had their chance at one point, Purdue has its chance. … We had our chance. Nebraska had a chance. (Wisconsin) had a chance. Iowa had a chance. That doesn’t mean someone is going to run away with it.
“Everybody had their opportunities,” Fleck continued. “We got a little unlucky here and there, but we showed incredible growth (versus Wisconsin), not only for now, but for the future.”
If the Gophers beat Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 29, Fleck’s team will finish 9-4. He would then have three of six seasons with a winning percentage greater than .667; that’s more than the previous nine Minnesota coaches combined since the early 1970s.
“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle said in a statement. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota. … P.J. consistently builds a team that Minnesotans can take pride in and one that competes for championships. I am grateful to President (Joan) Gabel and the Board of Regents for their continued support, and I look forward to Coach Fleck continuing to lead the Gophers for a long time.”
Fleck, with an overall record of 42-27 in six seasons at Minnesota, is becoming one of the longest-tenured coaches in the country. Only 26 other FBS coaches have been at their schools longer than Fleck.
“This is all about cultural sustainability,” Fleck said in a statement. “We have talked about that from Day One, and this new contract is a commitment to continuing to change our best academically, athletically, socially and spiritually. It is also a commitment to our elite staff and our tremendous fans.”
Fleck’s new estimated salary of $6 millions is the price of doing business in college football today. Changes in the Big Ten West show that with recent hires — new Nebraska coach Matt Rhule’s average annual salary is $9 million and Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell’s is set to make an average of nearly $8 million. On Wednesday, Jeff Brohm reportedly left Big Ten West-winner Purdue for Louisville, with a salary of roughly $6 million, according to The Athletic.
The buyout terms in Fleck’s new contract are not yet known. His previous contract terms included a buyout for him to leave at $10 million in the first year, which ran longer than a calendar year and was set to end Dec. 31. The sum decreased to $7 million in Year 2, $5 million in Year 3, $4 million in Year 4 and so on.
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