Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck is under fire after former players are sharing the brutal realities of playing under coach Fleck. Former players are speaking out about the toxic environment they unnecessarily faced under Fleck, who began coaching Minnesota football in 2017 after a successful tenure at Western Michigan.
Former players alleged that under coach Fleck many unacceptable policies and actions were put in place, including an unfair system called “Fleck Bank,” obsession over players' weights, and workouts as punishment. Many of the players spoke out anonymously.
One notorious system under Fleck's regime is the “Fleck Bank” which allowed certain players who did community service or praying to be rewarded by not being punished for violating team policy. “'Fleck Bank' — a system that allowed players with enough “coins” to get away with positive drug tests, and other violations of team rules,” per A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports.
Another player shared about Fleck and staff putting too much emphasis on player's weights. The player recounted, “I had a teammate who was supposed to gain weight, and he would have to drink three protein shakes in front of [his staff] before he could leave. He started [defecating] pink liquid,” via A.J. Perez.
P.J. Fleck also instated punishment workouts on his athletes, something the NCAA has banned. One player recalled one workout punishment was “400-yard bear crawls or having to do burpees until you threw up,” per A.J. Perez.
Minnesota's athletic director Mark Coyle issued a statement defending Fleck, who the school signed to a seven-year extension back in December. Coyle said, “P.J. and our program are unique. They put themselves out there in new and different ways — but always in a first-class manner … I always encourage all of our student-athletes 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.”