The University of Minnesota announced Wednesday morning that they have given Gopher Football Head Coach P.J. Fleck a one-year contract extension through the 2022 season, pending review by the Board of Regents. The contract extension will not come with a new raise, other than the one he receives annually as outlined in his current contract.
Fleck signed a five-year $18 million contract in January to lead the Gophers. In that contract his annual salary began at $3.5 million this season and increases by $50,000 each year of the contract. According to Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, this extension will not give Fleck any additional raise, but the $50,000 escalator clause will continue in the added year to the contract making his salary $3.75 million in 2022. His contract is now due to expire January 31, 2023. Fleck’s $3.5 million salary for 2017-18 is the 29th highest in the nation, and ranks sixth in the Big Ten.
“It’s an honor to coach at the University of Minnesota and in the Big Ten. Mark Coyle and I share the same goal of building a championship culture and team at Minnesota. It’s a goal that we are working on daily together and one that we will achieve. I am proud of how hard our young men have worked to improve this season on living a holistic life. They have taken great strides in bettering themselves athletically, academically, socially and spiritually. I look forward to leading them and watching them grow on and off the field as we continue to move this program forward.” said Fleck in a statement released by the U.
Fleck is 5-6 in his first year as the Gophers coach. He has won the most games by any Minnesota coach in their first season since Murray Warmath won seven games in 1954.
Under Fleck the Gophers posted their all-time highest program G.P.A in last spring’s semester and have been extremely visible in the community The team hosted a diaper drive and food drive during fall camp and hosted a turkey drive last night for families in need this Thanksgiving. Coach Fleck and his team routinely visit the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and volunteer with additional local organizations as well.
On the field, Fleck has made changes as well. Minnesota has gone from ranking 91st in the nation in penalties committed in 2016 to being the least penalized team in the nation in 2017.
One positive of this extension for Gopher fans will be the end of Fleck’s name coming up in the discussion of every other job opening this season. Many fans will mock this explanation, but if you don’t think people from some of the schools without coaches have sent feelers the U’s way you are completely naive. It also gives Fleck another season on his contract to take into recruiting to show that he will be around for the long haul. Recruiting rules the roost in college football. It is the be all end all.
A totally reasonable criticism is that Fleck has not done anything to earn this extra year on the contract. Remember this was also leveled a few seasons ago at Richard Pitino and now that extension looks like a steal for the Gophers. If you truly feel that PJ Fleck is the right guy for the Gophers, then one extra year on his contract without any significant raise is a price you should be willing to pay easily.
Many in the Twin Cities media will mock the Gophers for this extension today. Say it’s just another example of the U rewarding mediocrity. Don’t fall for that trap. This is an example of the U continuing to make an investment into the football program and giving PJ Fleck any advantage possible to turn this program into the contender we all think it can be.