Minnesota Golden Gophers extend football coach P.J. Fleck through 2028 season

Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck has agreed to a new seven-year contract that will keep him with the Golden Gophers through the 2028 season, it was announced Wednesday.

The agreement between the university and Fleck, who is eight games into his fifth season as the Gophers' head coach, is pending approval from the board of regents.

"We get to make a life here, not just make a living, and I think that is very difficult to find in our profession,'' said Fleck, who was earning about $4.65 million this year before incentives.

Minnesota, which leads the Big Ten West Division with four games to go, added two years to Fleck's deal, gave him a nominal annual raise, bumped up the budget for his assistants and increased the buyout he'd have to pay the university if he were to leave early for another job.

"P.J. is being genuine when he talks about he wants to be here,'' athletic director Mark Coyle said. "We have a coach that people are going to pay attention to on a national landscape, and his name comes up a lot, and so we feel like from an institutional perspective, having that high buyout obviously provides the protection.''

Fleck, who was hired at Minnesota in January 2017, is ranked sixth in total wins (32) for the Gophers. He guided Minnesota to an 11-win season in 2019, and he has had eight of his players selected in the NFL draft.

Fleck's raise for 2022, the first full year of the new contract, is $300,000. Instead of escalating salaries, he now gets about $5 million in annual pay. The standard bonuses -- $100,000 for winning or tying for the West Division title, for example -- remain. There's an addition of $100,000 each for the Gophers reaching eight and nine regular-season wins. The supplementary salary pool for the purpose of attracting, retaining and rewarding assistants rises to $350,000 next year from $200,000 in 2021.

The biggest increases came with the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program. The first-year buyout stayed at $10 million, but the next four seasons saw the following jumps: from $4.5 million to $7 million in 2023, from $3 million to $5 million in 2024, from $3 million to $4 million in 2025 and from $2 million to $3 million in 2026.

Fleck's name was circulated in media speculation for recent head coaching vacancies at Florida State, Tennessee and USC.

"That's why you do it now. You put that to bed. You know where you want to be,'' said Fleck, who signed the last page of the agreement Wednesday in front of his players at the end of practice.

"I wanted them to understand why I was doing that, because it was about them. It was about bringing their families back one day and having the same culture they played in be here."

ESPN's Tom VanHaaren and The Associated Press contributed to this report.