Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has received a one-year contract extension, which the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents approved at its meeting Friday morning.
The extension, which runs through the 2023 season, received approval by the Board of Regents’ finance and operations committee Thursday.
Fleck’s original contract was for five years and $18 million, starting at $3.5 million per year with a $50,000 annual increase. He received a one-year extension Nov. 22, 2017, during his 5-7 debut season with the Gophers, and terms of the new, one-year extension are similar to what Fleck received last year, a source said. The contract would expire in January 2024.
In his second year with the Gophers, Fleck, 38, guided the team to a 6-6 record and an invitation to the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit, and the bowl appearance will trigger a $75,000 bonus for the coach. The Gophers won two of their final three games, beating Purdue 41-10, falling 24-14 to Big Ten West Division champion Northwestern, then routing Wisconsin 37-15 in Madison to win Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time since 2003. The victory was the Gophers’ first at Camp Randall Stadium since 1994.
“I’m really proud of our football team. It’s a team that found a way to get to 6-6,’’ Fleck said when the Gophers’ bowl destination was announced Dec. 2. “All the adversity we had — some of our best players being hurt and being out since the beginning of the season. … The way they were able to handle that — the last three games winning two of three, two against really good bowl teams and one against the Big Ten West champs. It’s been a tremendous year. I think this team has overachieved in a lot of areas.’’
Fleck has an 11-13 record, including a 5-13 mark in Big Ten play, at Minnesota. The Gophers earned their first bowl berth under Fleck and did so by starting seven freshmen on offense for most of the season. Their defense struggled through the first six Big Ten games, giving up an average of 43.2 points, but it improved in the final three games after Fleck fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith and replaced him with defensive line coach Joe Rossi on an interim basis. The Gophers allowed an average of 16.3 points in their past three contests, holding Purdue to a season-low 10 points and Wisconsin to 12 fewer than its average to that point. After the win over the Badgers, Fleck named Rossi the permanent defensive coordinator.
Fleck was on the road recruiting Thursday in preparation for Wednesday’s opening of the three-day early signing period. The Gophers have 23 players committed to the recruiting Class of 2019, and they are ranked No. 35 nationally and eighth in the Big Ten in the 247Sports.com composite ratings of major national recruiting services.
Fleck’s extended contract lasts through the next five seasons, which would match the time that an incoming 2019 player would spend at Minnesota if he redshirts and plays four years. Buyout terms of the contract were not immediately available.