P.J. Fleck to Minnesota? Gophers Fire Embattled Coach Tracy Claeys
The University of Minnesota has announced the firing of head football coach Tracy Claeys. The decision comes just over two weeks after the football program became embroiled in a standoff with the administration over the suspension of 10 players in connection with allegations of sexual assault. The Golden Gophers went 9-4 this season and beat Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
Claeys has a buyout of $500,000 on the two years remaining on his contract. Social media has a lot of people wondering about that half-million dollar parachute, including local musician Johnny Apollo:
An ESPN Story quoted Claeys saying on Minneapolis TV station KSTP a few hours after being fired,
"I won't be up here freezing my ass off, so y'all enjoy the winter."
Claeys publicly supported his players in lobbying for fairness in the sexual assault investigation. Back in December, a tweet in which he voiced support for the players during their two-day boycott last month drew wide criticism from victims' rights groups and faculty on campus.
"Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!"
A MoveOn.com petition demanding that the school fire the coach noted that Claeys' tweet
"failed to mention or acknowledge the importance of respecting women. Further, it did not condemn violence, sexual assault or disrespect of women. We feel this is not at all acceptable."
Many news outlets, including the Detroit Free Press, are speculating that WMU Coach P.J. Fleck could be the next coach at Minnesota.
And virtually every college football follower and journalist is calling Fleck, the 36-year-old who's made "Row The Boat" the rallying cry for the Broncos, a top candidate for Minnesota.