P.J. Fleck can officially bring his “Row the Boat” mantra to Minnesota.
Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard confirmed Wednesday an agreement had been reached with the new Gophers coach and his agent’s company Harlan Sports.
Though the slogan was created by Fleck, Western Michigan's board of trustees trademarked it in 2013. To complete the deal, Fleck committed to donate $10,000 per year for a minimum of five years to his former team’s scholarship fund. His previous commitment of $50,000 to renovate the school’s football center will still be honored.
“We really wanted to come out with a win-win regarding the 'Row the Boat mantra,' " Beauregard told MLive.com. "That has been completed. There are no restrictions on us still being able to use it, so when we talk about using it in conjunction with our historical season, bringing the community together, the rally cry behind it, the story behind it is always going to be there. And we definitely will celebrate it as we celebrate what we've gone through during coach Fleck's tenure."
The trademark is now official property of Harlan Sports, the company founded by Fleck's agent Bryan Harlan.
Fleck used the mantra regularly throughout his first month on the job and expressed a desire for it to follow him to Minnesota.
Now the Gophers can begin stamping “Row the Boat” all over its apparel and equipment.
Fleck said the slogan came about in 2011 after his son Colt died shortly after birth due to a heart condition. The words became a tool to inspire the Western Michigan football program and community and he’ll use it the same way at Minnesota.
"When we first put it out there, you had to be able to have a trademark and licensing, I think it was with the university, or you can't sell it as a university logo through the NCAA rules," Fleck told ESPN. "That was something that I gave them the ability to do, because I never saw a dollar from it, never saw a cent from it, but we were able to create some type of culture.
"Again, it comes from a very personal, personal tragedy in my life and that's where 'Row the Boat' came from. ... I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people's lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area."