The University of Minnesota and head football coach P.J. Fleck have agreed to a contract extension that will keep Fleck in Maroon and Gold into 2024. The extension became official this morning after being approved at the Board of Regents meeting.
"It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state," said Fleck. "Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of. Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contact extension!"
Fleck joined Minnesota from Western Michigan in January 2017 and has the Gophers headed in the right direction. In 2018, Fleck led Minnesota to wins against Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Fresno State, Miami (Ohio) and New Mexico State. The Gophers will play Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26.
Under Fleck, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and for the first time on the road since 1994 to reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe. The Gophers controlled Purdue's potent offense, as Minnesota held the Boilers to a season low in points (10) and yards (233). Minnesota beat Mountain West champion Fresno State to give the Bulldogs one of their two regular season defeats.
"The growth of this program is evident," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Coach Fleck is building a team that excels on and off the field. He recruits at an extreme level and has brought in the highest ranked classes in school history. His players are continually involved in the community and his program has produced record numbers of Academic All-Americans and Academic All-Big Ten honorees. I look forward to more continued success as Coach Fleck builds his program."
The Gophers have 112 players on the 2018 roster and 58 (51.7%) are freshmen, which is the most in the nation. The Gophers have 78 underclassmen (69.6%), which ranks tenth in college football. Despite their youth, Minnesota set a program record as eight Gophers were named Big Ten Player of the Week.
Minnesota started seven freshmen on offense for most of the season and freshmen led the Gophers in passing and rushing. Newcomer Rashod Bateman has already set freshman receiving records this season, while junior Tyler Johnson has a good chance to break Minnesota single-season receiving records in the upcoming bowl game.
Off the field, Fleck and his team can often be found at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and have given back to the community by hosting diaper drives, turkey drives and a canned food drive.
In the classroom, Minnesota has posted program record GPAs under Fleck. In 2018, Minnesota had 39 players named Academic All-Big Ten and led the Big Ten with three players named Academic All-American.
Prior to Minnesota, Fleck served as head football coach at WMU from 2013-16, a time during which he engineered a historic turnaround on the field, from a 1-11 season in his first year to a 13-1 finish in his last. Coach Fleck's Broncos won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship for the first time in 29 years, advanced to the Cotton Bowl (one of major college football's prestigious "New Year's Six" bowl games) and finished the season ranked No. 12 in the country. Coach Fleck was twice named MAC Coach of the Year (2014, 2016) while at WMU, compiling a 30-22 overall record.