Harbaugh extension talks were tabled by pandemic

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 7:40pm

Football coach Jim Harbaugh did not sign a contract extension this spring due to COVID-19.

Football coach Jim Harbaugh did not sign a contract extension this spring due to COVID-19. Buy this photo
Madeline Hinkley/Daily

There’s no reason to believe a contract extension won’t come for Jim Harbaugh. And, according to the Michigan football coach, before the pandemic turned everything upside down, one was “right there.

“Right in last February, it was being discussed, and then the pandemic hit,” Harbaugh said on a Zoom call with reporters. “And it’s been not as high on the priority list.”

Harbaugh’s current contract, which runs until the end of the 2021 season, would see him paid $8.05 million this year if not for a 10 percent pay cut agreed to due to the financial deficit facing the athletic department.

There’s little reason to think Michigan wouldn’t want to retain Harbaugh. Though he hasn’t taken the Wolverines to a College Football Playoff or beaten Ohio State, Harbaugh has piloted the football program to three 10-win seasons after it hit an extreme low point under Brady Hoke. The Wolverines’ 2021 recruiting class is also eighth in the country, per 247Sports, after a slew of commitments over the last few months.

As for his potential to move jobs, Harbaugh has consistently shot down rumors of going back to the NFL, going as far to send a letter to parents of Michigan football players last season to refute a report that he was planning to leave.

For his part, Harbaugh seems content with the current situation, understanding the financial constraints that Michigan is currently under. 

There’s also the obvious reality for both him and the University that a massive contract extension for a football coach amid a pandemic that’s seen the athletic department project a $26.1 million deficit, when no one knows whether there will be football played in September, would be poor optics at best and tone deaf at worst.

“I think there’s bigger fish to fry for our athletic director, for our administration, for, really, me as a coach,” Harbaugh said. It hasn’t been on the top of the priority list. But I would expect something. That would be an announcement at sometime when that is said. I’m under contract this year and next. So we’ll get to that.”