Meet P.J. Fleck, the Six Million Dollar Man.
The Gophers football coach and the University of Minnesota on Wednesday agreed to a new seven-year contract that will run through the 2029 season. The new deal, which adds one year to his previous contract, will increase Fleck's pay by $1 million per year to an average of $6 million, a source with knowledge of the contract told the Star Tribune.
The agreement is pending Board of Regents approval at its Dec. 16 meeting.
The new contract marks the fifth time in Fleck's six years that he has received an amended or new deal, following one-year extensions in 2017 and '18 and seven-year agreements in 2019 and '21. This contract replaces the one he signed in November 2021, which went through the 2028 season and averaged $5 million per year. His annual pay this year ranked ninth in the Big Ten, according to the USA Today database of coaching salaries.
Fleck's new deal comes at a time when there's been notable turnover and big contracts thrown around in the Big Ten's West Division.
- Nebraska signed new coach Matt Rhule to an eight-year deal worth $74 million, an average of $9.25 million a year. Rhule's predecessor, Scott Frost, was making $4 million per year, which was tied for 13th in the Big Ten in 2022, according to USA Today's database of coaching contracts.
- Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati for a seven-year contract worth $54 million, or $7.7 million per year. Paul Chryst was making $5.25 million, seventh in the conference, before being fired.
- On Wednesday, Jeff Brohm left Purdue for alma mater Louisville, where he reportedly will make $5.83 million annually over six years. He was making $5.1 million in 2022, eighth in the Big Ten.
Depending on the salary of Purdue's hire and any other coaches receiving extensions, Fleck's average salary could land in the range of sixth-to-eighth-highest in the Big Ten in 2022.
Fleck and athletic director Mark Coyle were not available to comment, but each issued statements.
"This is all about cultural sustainability. … It is also a commitment to our elite staff and our tremendous fans,'' Fleck said in his statement. "During the last six years, we have been able to do some amazing things at Minnesota, some of which have not been accomplished in more than 115 years."
Fleck, 42, has the Gophers in their fourth bowl game in his six years at Minnesota; the team will play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium. He has a 43-27 overall record and a 26-26 Big Ten mark at Minnesota.
Over the past four seasons, the Gophers have records of 11-2, 3-4, 9-4 and 8-4. Minnesota was ranked No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll in 2019, its best finish since 1962.
Complete details of the contract, including buyout language and the assistant coaches' salary pool, have not yet been released. Under the deal he signed in 2021, Fleck would owe the university a $10 million buyout if he left for another coaching job before Dec. 31, 2022. The buyout figure decreased to $7 million if he left in 2023.
Coyle's actions show he believes Fleck is worth the new contract.
"What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,'' Coyle said in his statement. "He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota, and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially. … P.J. consistently builds a team that Minnesotans can take pride in and one that competes for championships.''