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#pounditThursday, March 23, 2023

Report: Jim Harbaugh facing key obstacle in Michigan contract talks

Jim Harbaugh walking

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches warmups before a game against Northern Illinois at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

Jim Harbaugh’s future at Michigan looks decidedly uncertain, and another factor is complicating things between the coach and the school.

There is a growing chance Harbaugh could leave Michigan, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN. One issue is Michigan’s inability to offer Harbaugh a new contract with a salary that would be more in line with what an NFL team could pay him. The Michigan coach made a comparatively modest $7 million in 2022, and would command more on the open market.

Why are Michigan’s hands tied? According to Thamel, the complicating factor is the NCAA’s current allegation of recruiting violations made against the Wolverines. As part of that investigation, Harbaugh could face a Level I violation, the most severe type, which could result in a suspension for the coach. Michigan is unwilling to move on a new contract with Harbaugh until that situation is resolved, which could take weeks.

Harbaugh took a pay cut after Michigan’s 2-4 season in 2020. His contract was renegotiated a year ago, and while he did get a raise, his buyout is also remarkably low. In other words, money would not be a factor for any NFL team, and Michigan is not really willing or able to try to change that right now.

Michigan has gone to the College Football Playoff for two straight seasons under Harbaugh, and he has said he fully intends to return for the 2023 season. However, a lot of reports have cast doubt on that, and this latest one will do little to convince anyone that Harbaugh is in it for the long haul at Michigan.


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