Staying put: Gophers coach P.J. Fleck agrees to seven-year contract extension

The University of Minnesota originally signed P.J. Fleck to a five-year, $18 million contract to become its head football coach in January 2017. He then received a one-year extension in November 2017 and another in December 2018 to put him under contract at Minnesota through 2023 at a price of $25.5 million.

But with the 13th-ranked Gophers sitting at 8-0 (5-0 in the Big Ten) and preparing to play host to fifth-ranked and undefeated Penn State on Saturday, Fleck received a substantial reward for the job he has done and the university took a significant step toward making sure he won’t be bolting for a bigger job.

Fleck agreed to a seven-year extension on Tuesday that is pending the approval of the Board of Regents and will put him under contract through the 2026 season. Fleck’s salary will increase to a $4.6 million average. Fleck’s $3.6 million salary for 2019 ranked 37th among 130 FBS coaches and 11th out of 14 coaches in the Big Ten, according to USA Today. Mark Coyle, the Gophers’ athletic director, told reporters the buyout if Fleck were to depart the university would be $10 million.

“It is a tremendous honor to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and this great state,” Fleck said in a statement. “Our family absolutely loves Minnesota, and we are excited to continue to call this state home. We are building a championship culture – one that our fans can be proud of – through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student athletes. Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, Mark Coyle, President (Joan T.A.) Gabel and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program.”

The Gophers, who have won 10 consecutive games dating to last season, have not been 8-0 since 1941 and were last 5-0 in Big Ten play in 1961.

During an appearance on Mackey & Judd with Ramie on SKOR North on Monday, Fleck was asked about his future. “I expect to be here a very long time,” he said. “I love working with Mark Coyle and our administration and President Gabell’s an absolute rock star. Heather and I love living here, especially  with our children. It’s a very special place.”

The Gophers’ 10-game winning streak is the third-longest in the nation. Fleck is 12-2 in his past 14 games and 20-13 at Minnesota. That 60.6 winning percentage ranks third in school history for anyone who has coached more than 30 games and is the best since Bernie Bierman, who last coached at Minnesota in 1950. Fleck recorded his 50th career victory earlier this year to become the second youngest active FBS coach to reach that milestone.