PJ Fleck Fires Back Against “Baseless Allegations” of Toxic Culture

Photo: Ryan Burns - 247Sports

On Wednesday, Front Office Sports released a report accusing PJ Fleck of creating a toxic culture within the Minnesota Gophers football program. It had quotes from anonymous former players who described the atmosphere as “cult like”.

It also had quotes from a former University of Minnesota board of regents member who has come out against Fleck in the past, along with votes of confidence from Mark Coyle and former Gophers cornerback, Coney Durr. The article was meant to expose Fleck as a fraud, who runs a program the opposite of what he preaches.

Instead, the FOS report brought an outcry of public support for PJ and the operation he runs in Dinkytown. Players, both current and former, came to Fleck’s defense. So did parents, staff members and media members across the internet.

PJ Fleck defends himself against allegations of toxic culture

At Big Ten Media Day on Thursday morning, the Gophers head coach defended himself, first in an interview with ESPN, then again during his press conference shortly after.

At the podium, he called the allegations of a toxic culture “baseless” and explained what the “Fleck Bank” was, essentially an analogy for investing in the program. PJ said “Fleck coins” were not a thing and, thus, they were never exchanged for lighter disciplinary action, as accused in the FOS report.

On the accusations of player punishment coming in the form of excruciating workouts, PJ vehemently denied. He claims that has NEVER happened. If guys are in the doghouse for one reason or another, they might have to get up early and clean the weight room.

Otherwise, discipline is handed down based on the crime committed. If a player is late to class, for example, they watch a video on the importance of being punctual and pen a letter to the professor whose class they were tardy to.

What should we believe…?

It’s important to remember that most of the allegations being thrown Fleck’s way are coming from former players who were originally part of Jerry Kill’s program. In his presser, PJ pointed to the transition period of 2017-2018.

That doesn’t mean all toxic culture allegations go that far back. As mentioned yesterday, I have talked to at least one disgruntled former player who left the University of Minnesota much more recently. Clearly, there are guys who did not fit in the atmosphere Fleck has created for Gopher football.

But given all the support shown yesterday and the lack of substance in the FOS article, the complaints are not as widespread as the group of former disgruntled players make it out to be.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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