AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck’s five-year, $18 million contract comes with a hefty buyout if he is fired and substantial bonuses if the Gophers win big.
The university on Thursday released details of the deal agreed to last month and set to be finalized this week. Fleck will make $3.5 million in his first season, with $50,000 annual raises over the remainder of the contract, which is valued slightly above the average for Big Ten football coaches.
If Fleck is dismissed without cause after one year, the university would owe him $9 million. The buyout figure drops to $3 million after three full seasons and $1.5 million with one year remaining.
The 36-year-old Fleck spent the last four seasons at Western Michigan and in 2016 led the Broncos to a 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl appearance.
Unlike deals for his predecessors Tracy Claeys and Jerry Kill, Fleck’s contract includes language requiring him to make an effort in the process of supervising, evaluating, training and coaching his players “to develop their character.”
Athletic director Mark Coyle has made character one of his points of emphasis in the oversight of Gophers sports. The football program is still reeling from an alleged sexual assault last fall that led to the suspension of 10 players from the Holiday Bowl game and expulsion for four of them, pending possible appeals.
The university doubled the national championship bonus for Claeys to $300,000 for Fleck, who would get $200,000 for an appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinals or $150,000 for playing in one of the other New Year’s Six bowls. He would earn $75,000 for any bowl bid.
Those amounts aren’t cumulative, but Fleck’s bonuses for success within the conference are: $150,000 for a Big Ten championship, $100,000 for winning or tying for the West Division title, $100,000 for one of the 10 recognized national coach of the year awards and $50,000 for a Big Ten coach of the year award.
If the Gophers beat an opponent from another Power Five conference, as they did against Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, Fleck would get another $50,000. He also has annual bonuses for NCAA academic progress scores and graduation rates, up to $75,000 in each category.
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