P.J. Fleck Faces Abuse Allegations, Accused of Running A Cult

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P.J. Fleck is facing serious allegations from several former University of Minnesota players and staffers.

Front Office Sports reported on Wednesday that Fleck has been accused of creating an “environment fraught with intimidation and toxicity.”

Among other accusations, the report says that he created something called the “Fleck Bank.” That terminology described an alleged system that allowed players to accumulate “coins,” that would cancel out poor behavior like positive drug tests and rules violations.

According to the story, the Fleck Bank tracked community service visits as well as how committed players were to their school work. If teammates ratted out other teammates, they’d allegedly be given “Fleck Bank” credits.

Fleck has famously developed a philosophy he started at Western Michigan, essentially called the “Row the Boat” school of thought. Well “multiple” former players and staff members reportedly used the term “cult” to describe his implementation of that philosophy at Minnesota.

Several anonymous players expanded on their disagreements with the 42-year-old head coach.

“You almost wondered who was a rat and who wasn’t a rat,” one player said. “You always felt like you had to keep [your] guard up. They told us we could seek help with a mental health counselor, and get some therapy sessions. But our schedules were so busy that it was like, when would you do that?”

“Some of Fleck’s recruits tested positive, but he looked past it because they had coins in the Fleck Bank from doing community service or staying around to pray with him,” said another player. “He wanted you to be family, and he wanted you to do whatever he wanted you to do.”

P.J. Fleck
LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 05: Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and his wife Heather Fleck leave the field after the win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Athletic Director Denies Accusations Against Fleck

Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle denied any wrongdoing, defending Fleck and the program.

“P.J. and our program are unique,” Coyle said in a statement. “They put themselves out there in new and different ways — but always in a first-class manner — and after nearly seven years, it is clear to me, that is what makes P.J. and our program so successful.”

“I always encourage all of our student-athletes, including every member of our football team, to reach out to me directly if they encounter any issues. To date, I have not heard from a single football student-athlete about the allegations raised.”

Other confusing stories detailed Fleck demanding that players clap when he entered the room, sometimes re-entering if he wasn’t happy with their ovation. He also reportedly wanted players to answer “I’m elite” when asked how they were doing, and several players claimed that they were pressured to return from injuries sooner than they should have.

There will certainly be different interpretations, and some of the allegations seem like team building exercises taken to an extreme. But locker room accusations are under a microscope, especially after the Northwestern hazing scandal earlier this month.


Given the AD’s stated support, it doesn’t seem like Fleck will face the same kind of punishment Fitzgerald did. But the Minnesota Golden Gophers and its “Row the boat” culture will undoubtedly be under a magnifying glass going forward.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC


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  1. Highly doubt this stuff. I attended a non denominational church in my high school years that my father later referred to as a ‘cult’ years later. Which, I told him, was a completely inaccurate depiction of what it was. A couple of people’s skewed opinions of something doesn’t mean it’s a cult.

  2. I wonder how the still living members of the “Junction Boys” feel about this…. If you don’t know the Junction Boys, please take a moment gogling them and see why SOUTHERN football is the most dominate football in the world..

  3. It appears there’s lots of soft little boys playing college football these days who need to grab their binkies, favorite stuffies and a warm bottle of milk and go sit on the couch and watch others become men.

  4. This is a bull sh*T piece. The people that we`re “quoted” left the program after peeing their pants. Nobody credible is backing this up. PJ Fleck runs a really good program. BTW, I`m a season ticket holder to Gopher football.

  5. Are these “players” making accusations because they think there is a payday at the end of it? Money and greed always seem to play a part in every scenario these days.

  6. I feel like college football players are seeing “Camp Lejeune” type commercials.

    “Did you play college football? Did you think you were good but were not? Did you think you would play a lot more than you did?
    Was your coach mean to you? Did he tell you to do things that hurt your feelings?”

    If you answered yes, please call 1-800-IMA-PUSY right away!

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