WMU's P.J. Fleck addresses job rumors with players

Tony Paul, The Detroit News
P. J. Fleck

Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck hasn't once ducked the questions about his future. He stuck to form again Monday.

Fleck, at 35 one of the nation's hottest coaching commodities, said he met with his team's leadership council about four weeks ago to let them know there'd be speculation.

For Fleck, it's all about keeping the lines of communication open -- with his boss, athletic director Kathy Beauregard, and his players, who no doubt have heard the rumors.

"Remember, this is a very real program," Fleck said Monday on a teleconference ahead of Friday's Mid-American Conference championship game against Ohio at Ford Field.

"With success comes all types of speculation. I said, 'Guys, just so you know, I'm 100-percent committed to you and this process. You're gonna get 100 percent of me every single day.'

"And I let them say what they had to say, too. We're very open and honest in this program.”

Fleck has turned away overtures from other schools every year during his four years as head coach at Western Michigan, which has him signed through 2020, as the highest-paid coach in the MAC.

The talk is really heating up now, though, with the Broncos finishing 12-0 in the regular season and poised to crash the New Year's Six and possibly play in the Cotton Bowl.

There was a report over the weekend from Bob Kravitz, formerly of the Indianapolis Star and now of WTHR-TV, that Purdue was preparing to name Fleck its head coach. A source in Fleck's camp disputed there was any deal in place, and that he wouldn't talk to any schools until after the MAC championship game.

Beauregard told The Detroit News she has been reassured by Fleck and his agent that no deal is in place.

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It is worth noting, Fleck's buyout for leaving WMU early is $800,000 until the end of the month, $600,000 starting Thursday.

WMU donors are working to raise funds to increase Fleck's compensation package. Whether it'll work remains to be seen, and could hinge on what jobs open in the coming days. Purdue doesn’t seem like a great move for Fleck, but Oregon or Notre Dame, should they have openings, could be quite appealing.

Houston also has an opening, though that might be a lateral move, going from one Group of Five program to another.

To Fleck's credit, he hasn't disputed that there could be conversations in the coming days.

"I think they (the players) understand how the business works," Fleck said. "We're a very close-knit family here. I believe they deserve to know what's going on and what the truth really is, because they are my children. They are my kids.

"I can't hold them accountable for not telling me everything if I don't tell them everything."


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