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PJ Fleck's Abuse and 'Cult' Allegations at Minnesota Explained

Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach PJ Fleck is under fire after allegations made of intimidation and toxicity within the program.

In the wake of Northwestern parting ways with Pat Fitzgerald following hazing allegations, Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach PJ Fleck is in hot water following a recent report of abuse allegations within his own program.

On Wednesday, July 26, A.J. Perez with Front Office Sports released an exclusive piece highlighting accounts of former players and coaches alleging that described an "environment fraught with intimidation and toxicity". Examples provided in the report suggest that players were able to get away with violations of team rules, including failed drug tests, if they had accumulated enough "coins" through the use of what had been called the "Fleck Bank".

Along with these allegations, Perez noted that multiple players and coaches described the culture within the Golden Gophers program as a "cult" thanks to the "Row the Boat" mentality that Fleck brought from his previous job as Western Michigan's head coach.

Minnesota, PJ Fleck Respond to Allegations

Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck.

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"P.J. and our program are unique," Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle told FOS. "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."

Following the release of the report, Fleck spoke to Adam Rittenberg with ESPN to push back against the accusations made by Front Office Sports. Fleck referred to the accusations as "baseless", citing that the program had been looked into multiple times since 2017 without any wrongdoing found.

"Our programming culture is proven to work on and off the field, and it's always done in a first-class manner," Fleck told ESPN. "There are tons of testimonials from past, current and future Gophers."

Fleck took over as the head coach for Minnesota in 2017 following a successful four-year run at Western Michigan. During that time in the MAC, Fleck turned the program around from a 1-11 record in his first season to a 13-1 record that included a conference title in 2016.

Since taking over for Minnesota, Fleck has had decent success despite being a smaller program within the Big Ten. The 42-year-old head coach has gone 44-27 while with Minnesota, highlighted by an 11-2 season in 2019 that concluded with a win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

Fleck has yet to receive any kind of punishment or suspension for the allegations described by Front Office Sports, and based off of the comments by the school's athletic director, it doesn't appear that the program believes that he has done anything wrong.

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