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P.J. Fleck’s new contract: A key date and big bonus money

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University of Minnesota Golden Gopher head coach P.J. Fleck cheers along the sideline during a regular season contest. Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS — P.J. Fleck’s new contract includes a buyout that would cost Fleck, or any team that hires him away, $10 million for leaving early. It’s a hefty incentive but will be gone in little more than a year.

On Dec. 31, 2020, that $10 million is cut more than in half, to $4.5 million for 2021, a more reasonable figure for any school that might want to sign the Gophers’ football coach away.

Fleck’s Gophers are 10-1, ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll and likely to move up in the College Football Playoff poll released Tuesday. On Saturday, they can secure a place in the Dec. 7 Big Ten Championship game with a victory over No. 13 Wisconsin (9-2) at TCF Bank Stadium.

New Year’s Eve 2020 is significant because it comes after the early signing period for high school seniors and junior college transfers mid-December. This is when most schools lock in recruits with national letters of intent for the following year.

When Fleck left Western Michigan to come to Minnesota in January 2017, there was only one signing day, in February, meaning players could back out of verbal agreements. Among eight Fleck recruits to follow him to Minnesota — three weeks before signing day — was Gophers’ quarterback Tanner Morgan, setting records in the Gophers’ historic season.

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Fleck signed his new deal Nov. 5 after Florida State showed interest in the third-year Gophers coach. According to the new contract, he already has sewn up $175,000 in bonus money, $75,000 for getting the Gophers bowl eligible with a 34-7 win over Nebraska on Oct. 12 and $100,000 for securing at least a piece of the West Division title with Saturday’s 38-22 win over Northwestern.

With Board of Regents approval on Nov. 14, the first year of the contract was set to run from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, 2020. All following years on the contract will match the calendar year — Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

If the Gophers beat Wisconsin on Saturday, and No. 2 Ohio State, the East Division winner, in the Big Ten title game, Fleck would get $150,000 more in bonus money. If that were to happen, it would likely trigger a $200,000 bonus for making the four-team College Football Playoff.

Winning in the semifinals and title game would mean $300,000 more. If the Gophers don’t scale college football’s Mount Everest and instead go to their first Rose Bowl since 1962, Fleck will receive a $150,000 bonus.

Fleck will also receive $100,000 for being named national coach of the year by one of 10 groups. He will receive $50,000 if he is named conference coach of the year by his peers or the media.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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