The University of Minnesota Board of Regents officially signed off on the Row the Boat era, approving football coach P.J. Fleck’s $18 million contract Friday afternoon with a 10-1 vote.

“It is a lot of money,” U President Eric Kaler said, “but we’re getting a lot of coach.”

The contract will pay Fleck an average of $3.6 million per season — $18 million over the five years — slightly more than the Big Ten average of $3.52 million. Bonuses and incentives for victories, championships and academics could push the contract above $20 million in the coming seasons.

The Gophers made a big jump in financial commitment from former coach Tracy Claeys’ three-year, $4.5 million deal signed in November 2015.

Kaler said the U will loan the athletic department $5.6 million from central reserves to cover the buyouts involved in firing Claeys and his staff and hiring Fleck and a new staff. Money will be repaid by the athletic department over two years.

Regent Abdul M. Omari was the lone “no” vote, and he later declined to comment.

The high-energy coach, and his “Row the Boat” motto that is now ringing around the Twin Cities, arrived Jan. 6 from Western Michigan University.

Read more about Fleck’s deal here: http://strib.mn/2ltgZd0.

Staff writer Maura Lerner contributed to this report.