P.J. Fleck Reaches Agreement with Western Michigan on 'Row the Boat' Slogan

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 02:  P.J. Fleck, head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos looks on during the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Western Michigan and Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck and his former school, Western Michigan, have reached an agreement that will allow the head coach to use the "Row the Boat" slogan, according to Cory Olsen of MLive.com.

The coach has continued to use the phrase at his new school, per Olsen, despite the fact that Western Michigan previously owned its rights. But Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard announced on Wednesday that Harlan Sports, founded by Fleck's agent, Bryan Harlan, now owns the slogan:

We really wanted to come out with a win-win regarding the Row the Boat mantra. 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 price? Fleck will donate $10,000 a year over the next five years for "football scholarship allocations," along with honoring a former pledge of $50,000 to renovate "Bill Brown facility's suite area," as Beauregard told Olsen.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, Fleck began using the mantra in Feb. 2011 after his son Colt died due to a heart condition to reflect a "never give up" point of view.

In May 2013, Fleck broke down the metaphor, per David Drew of MLive.com:

I had "Row the Boat" a long time ago, but I never brought it out. It's very simple when you break it down. There are three parts to rowing the boat. There is the oar, which is the energy behind rowing the boat. There is boat, which is the actual sacrifice, either our team or the administration or the boosters or the audience or whoever is willing to sacrifice for this program. There is also the compass. Every single person that comes in contact with our football program, fans or not, they are all going for one common goal and that is success.

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For Fleck, keeping the mantra with him as he took over at Minnesota was incredibly important.

"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," Fleck told ESPN.com in January, according to Rovell.

Fleck, 36, signed a five-year, $18.5 million contract with Minnesota this winter after spending the past four seasons as Western Michigan's head coach. He led the Broncos to a 30-22 record during that time and three consecutive bowl appearances, including a 13-1 record in 2016 and a trip to the Cotton Bowl. 

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