WMU, Fleck ink agreement to share 'Row the Boat' legacy

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of the 2016 WMU football team.

2016 WMU football Broncos

KALAMAZOO, Mich.— "Row the Boat," the three-word mantra that became the catch phrase for Western Michigan University football success, will become the legal intellectual property of former head coach P.J. Fleck.

Recent conversations between the University and Fleck's agent have led to an agreement in which Fleck will legally assume ownership of the phrase and be able to use or transfer it at will. The motivational phrase, as Fleck has noted publicly, is one that is highly personal and grew out of the way he and his family coped with the loss of an infant son.

As part of the agreement and to honor Bronco football accomplishments and his time with the team, Fleck will make a yearly gift of $10,000 to support a scholarship to be awarded to a Bronco football player. The Fleck Family Football Scholarship will be awarded each year beginning in fall 2017.

The University will retain the right to use "Row the Boat" in its football materials and displays, recognizing and celebrating Fleck's tenure at WMU and the teams he coached. Fleck was named Bronco head coach in 2012. Over the next four years, the Broncos football program built itself into the 2016 team that boasted a 13-0 season record, won the Mid-American Conference championship and made a New Year's Cotton Bowl appearance against the University of Wisconsin. Fleck is now head coach at the University of Minnesota.

The Fleck scholarship gift follows and builds upon an earlier $50,000 gift commitment Fleck made to WMU. The gift was made as part of a larger capital campaign drive to renovate the Waldo Stadium coaches offices as part of stadium renovations completed in preparation for the Broncos' 2016 season.

A licensing agreement for "Row the Boat" between WMU and Harlan Sports Management details the phrase ownership and use decisions. The Chicago-based company represents Fleck.

For more on WMU football, visit wmubroncos.com.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.