During his tenure at Western Michigan University, head coach P.J. Fleck led the Broncos to prominence in college football. With top-notch recruiting, high-energy practices, youthful enthusiasm, and positive reinforcement the Broncos gained momentum during his four-year career in Kalamazoo. Last year that momentum culminated in a 13-1 overall record with the single loss coming in the Cotton Bowl.
One of the techniques that Fleck used during his tenure at WMU was motivational sayings. His most famous was ‘Row The Boat.’ RTB originated in 2012 just after the tragic death of Fleck’s infant son. Fleck explained the origin of the phrase to Yahoo! Sports:
“But it was something that I had in the back of my mind to say, ‘Hey, no matter what happens, no matter what we’re going to do here, we’re just going to keep rowing. Whatever turns out, however it turns out, we’re just going to keep rowing. Then when it does turn out, good or bad, we’re just going to keep rowing, keep rowing and keep rowing. So, it was able to, at least, help my method to get through some type of adversity.”
Fleck applied the phrase to his stewardship of the WMU football program to great success. The phrase was trademarked by the university and was a source of revenue through merchandise sales. After the 2016 season, P.J. Fleck was undoubtedly one of college football’s hottest coaching commodities. After accepting the position as head football coach at the University of Minnesota, the battle for control of the catch phrase began.
It appears that the legal fight over the trademarked phrase has been resolved. The Detroit News is reporting that Fleck and the university have reached a settlement agreement. Fleck has been reassigned trademark rights to ‘Row The Boat’ in exchange for a financial settlement.
“Under terms of the agreement, Fleck, now the head football coach at Minnesota, will continue to fund a $50,000 gift he and his wife, Heather, committed to Western Michigan last year. So far, $10,000 of that has been given. Those funds will go toward Western Michigan facility upgrades.
Fleck, 36, also has agreed to donate $10,000 a year to Western Michigan to go toward football scholarships, athletic director Kathy Beauregard said. The terms of that agreement are five years.”
The great thing about this agreement is that the funds used to settle the case are earmarked for facility improvements on campus. It’s nice to see that the both parties could come to a mutual financial resolution and the students at Western Michigan will be the beneficiaries of that settlement.