U of M Names P.J. Fleck as New Gophers Head Football Coach

January 06, 2017 02:41 PM

The University of Minnesota has officially named P.J. Fleck as the new Gophers head football coach. Fleck comes to Minnesota after four years as the head coach at Western Michigan University.

U of M Athletics Director Mark Coyle announced Friday that the university and Fleck have agreed on a five-year contract.


"P.J. is a proven winner and a strong leader. He's built a unique, positive culture that gets the best out of his students on the field and in the classroom," Coyle said in a statement. "His infectious energy and passion make him a terrific coach and dynamic recruiter. I am excited he will be leading the Gophers for years to come."

You can read the Memorandum of Understanding, which lays out the terms of the U of M's offer to coach Fleck here. 

Western Michigan also announced Friday that Fleck has informed the school that he is leaving for the Gophers position.

A news conference about the announcement will be held at 3 p.m. Watch it on the live video page and mobile app.

Western Michigan also announced Friday that Fleck has informed the school that he is leaving for the Gophers position.

KSTP Sports' Joe Schmit had previously reported that Coyle and President Eric Kaler met with Fleck in Chicago.

RELATED: Western Michigan University Head Coach Emerges as Candidate for Gophers Position

Fleck issued the following statement regarding the announcement:

It's an honor to coach at Minnesota and be part of the Big Ten conference. I want to thank president Eric Kaler, athletic director Mark Coyle and the Board of Regents for this opportunity. I also want to thank Western Michigan, my players and the great fans and city of Kalamazoo for a wonderful four years.

I look forward to meeting my new players and getting to know them as quickly as possible. I am excited to put together a staff and turn my efforts to recruiting, but also want Gopher fans to know that my wife, Heather, and I and our four children will be visible in the community and we are eager to connect with them. I am ready to go. Ski-U-Mah!

RELATED: 'Couldn't Have Picked a Better Group,' New Gophers Coach Fleck Says

Fleck will take over the position after the university fired Tracy Claeys.

RELATED: U of M Fires Football Coach Tracy Claeys

A respected agent told KSTP that bringing on Fleck would require the Gophers to give him a contract in the range of $21 million. That's $3.5 million a year, which would slot close to the middle among Big Ten coaches.

Former head coach Claeys was paid $1.5 million a year.

Fleck Playing and Coaching Experience

Thirty-six-year-old Fleck was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016. This past season, Fleck led his team to win 13 games and eight games each season in 2014 and 2015. He was 30-22 overall and 21-11 in the Mid-American Conference.

Fleck was also named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award and the George Munger Award after Western Michigan became the first team in MAC history to win each of its eight league games by 14 or more points.

Prior to his role as head coach at Western Michigan, Fleck was a wide receivers coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and he coached the receivers at Rutgers from 2010-2011. He also coached receivers and was the recruiting coordinator at Northern Illinois for the Huskies in 2009. Fleck tutored the receivers for the Huskies from 2007-2008 and his coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2006.

Fleck was a receiver for the Huskies from 1999-2003. He also played the 2004-2005 seasons with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.


Rebecca Omastiak

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