PJ Fleck became famous for Rowing the Boat over his four years in Kalamazoo, and if reports from ESPN are any indication, he could be looking to bring that trademark slogan with him to Minnesota.
It’s been a topic of debate for some time in the WMU football community, which eagerly attached itself to “Row the Boat” during the Broncos’ wild run of success under Fleck, as to whether or not the community will continue to use the phrase after the coach’s sudden departure to the icier lakes of Minnesota.
The slogan is personal to Fleck; the mantra was created shortly after his family suffered the death of his second son, Colt, in 2011, with Fleck eventually using it as a guiding ethos for his football team.
The decision to trademark the slogan came about in order to ensure the university could use variations of “Row the Boat” as official logos and be able to sell it as a “university logo” for trademark and licensing purposes under NCAA rules.
Western Michigan University’s board of trustees currently owns the trademark on the phrase, with proceeds from the trademark benefitting various community organizations in Kalamazoo.
Fleck confirmed in the ESPN report Wednesday that he is “working on” obtaining the trademark with university officials on both sides and hopes to be able to use the proceeds of “Row the Boat” in a similar fashion in Minnesota.
“I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people's lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area," Fleck said in the ESPN report.
No Western Michigan officials were contracted in the ESPN report, but athletic director Kathy Beauregard told MLive’s Cory Olsen in an article published Thursday she has not been contacted about such a acquisition.