According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, PJ Fleck and his agent Brian Harlan officially reached a deal with Western Michigan today to transfer the “Row The Boat” trademark to Harlan’s company—Harlan Sports. According to the official press release issued by Western Michigan Fleck will give Western Michigan at yearly payments of $10,000 to support a scholarship for a football player in exchange for the transferring of the trademark. The Fleck Family Football Scholarship will be awarded each year beginning in fall 2017. This yearly gift is in addition to a $50,000 gift already given to the school by Coach Fleck. Additionally, Western Michigan will will retain the right to use "Row the Boat" in its football materials and displays that recognize and celebrate Fleck's tenure at WMU and the teams he coached
Harlan and Fleck will retain the trademark, but will allow the University of Minnesota to use the phrase on apparel and other merchandise for free as long as Fleck is employed by the Gophers.
First—this is a huge win for PJ Fleck, and frankly even more so his agent. Only having to pay $50,000 for the transfer of the trademark, and then having that money earmarked for something that Fleck would be proud to stand behind is a best case scenario. I think many people will be surprised to see that Western Michigan will transfer the trademark for what appears to be as small amount as it is.
Secondly, since Fleck and Harlan will keep the trademark themselves, this will not be an issue at any further jobs he would move on to. Minnesota can use and market the phrase to death as long as Fleck is employed by the U, and if/when Fleck moves along, the trademark will move with him and the U will need to stop using the phrase.
Minnesota will be able to use the phrase on merchandise for free, which means you will see Row The Boat on EVERYTHING in the very near future. You remember how popular Brick by Brick was in the early days.....this will dwarf it.
So expect to see lots of Gopher apparel and merchandise in stores with Row The Boat in it ASAP. Also, as GoAUpher says in his uniform post, it might not be until 2018, but expect it to be very visible and evident on Minnesota’s uniforms and football marketing.
*NOTE: The first paragraph was edited to reflect payment details announced by Western Michigan that were not initially reported by Darren Rovell.