Former football coach secures rights to mantra

Former football coach secures rights to mantra

P.J. Fleck. Photo via

The three-word mantra that helped propel a West Michigan college football team into the spotlight now belongs to the team’s former head coach.

P.J. Fleck, former Western Michigan University head football coach, has signed an agreement with the university that will allow him to assume ownership of the motivational motto “Row the boat,” which he coined when he took over leadership of the team in 2012.

As Fleck has noted publicly, the phrase is personal and grew out of the way he and his family coped with the loss of an infant son.

The deal states Fleck will be able to use or transfer the phrase at will, and the university will retain the right to use it in football materials and displays recognizing and celebrating Fleck’s tenure at WMU and the teams he coached.

As part of the agreement, 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 this fall.

The scholarship gift follows Fleck’s earlier $50,000 donation, made as part of a capital campaign to renovate the Waldo Stadium coaches’ offices 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.


Fleck was named Broncos head football coach in 2012. Over the next four years, the Broncos football program built itself into the 2016 team that had a 13-1 record, won the Mid-American Conference championship and made a New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl appearance against the University of Wisconsin.

Fleck is now head football coach at the University of Minnesota of the Big Ten.

Previous article College names Giants
Next article The Right Place appoints board members
Rachel Watson was a Grand Rapids Business Journal/Grand Rapids Magazine staff reporter who most recently covered food and beverage, agriculture, economic development, manufacturing, small business and startups, banking and finance, human resources, and DEI. She also was associate digital editor for and

No posts to display