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Jim Harbaugh Contract, Salary, & Buyout Breakdown at Michigan

Last Updated: October 21, 2022
Jim Harbaugh leads his undefeated Michigan Wolverines into battle against No. 10 Penn State on Saturday afternoon. How much is UM paying for its head man?

There are few constants in college sports, but one of them seems to be that as soon as an accomplished head coach shoots down rumors of a move, he or she will sign a big extension.

That’s exactly what happened last year in Ann Arbor when head football coach Jim Harbaugh signed a shiny new contract worth more than $36 million over five years. So for now, no, Harbaugh is not headed back to the NFL. At least for now. And, if he does change his mind, he’ll likely owe the university some money before it happens.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jim Harbaugh’s contract a Michigan.

Jim Harbaugh Contract Overview at Michigan

Signed: Feb. 15, 2022
Term: Through 2026 season
Base Salary: $655,000

Jim Harbaugh’s Additional Compensation by Year:
  • 2022: $6,395,000
  • 2023: $6,535,000
  • 2024: $6,678,000
  • 2025: $6,824,000
  • 2026: $6,973,000

Harbaugh is due to make $7,050,000 this year when you combine his base and supplemental salaries — a total that will increase each year through the term of his deal. In all, he’s set to make $36,680,000 on this contract, representing a hefty raise from the previous one. Last season he made “only” $4,030,901, and before he renegotiated his deal with Michigan, he was set to earn just $21,000,000 through 2025, according to the Detroit Free Press.

For perspective, here’s how Harbaugh’s 2022 salary compares to other coaches whose contracts we’ve profiled this season:

*coach has since been fired

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Jim Harbaugh Contract Buyout Details

Both aspects of Jim Harbaugh’s buyout may be interesting to fans: what the university would have to pay to fire him and what Harbaugh would have to pay if he decides to leave.

If Michigan were to fire Harbaugh without cause — something not likely to happen in the near future — it will still owe Harbaugh every penny left on his deal, to be paid in monthly installments until the contract would have expired in 2026. The only wrinkle here is if Harbaugh then takes a job either in Division I or the NFL. In that case, his buyout would be reduced to his remaining salary, minus whatever he is making in his new position.

If Harbaugh decides it’s time to give the NFL another shot, he’s free to do so, but would owe Michigan a few bucks on his way out the door. It’s nothing that would stop him from taking a new job — in fact, his new employer would probably foot the bill — but it’s worth considering.

Jim Harbaugh’s Coach Buyout by Year:
  • 2022: $3,000,000
  • 2023: $2,250,000
  • 2024: $1,500,000
  • 2025: $750,000
  • 2026: $0

Potential Bonuses

Harbaugh’s potential bonuses fall under four potential categories: Big Ten championships, bowl games, coach of the year awards, and academic incentives. In total, he can earn over $3 million in a single year on bonuses alone. Also, unless otherwise noted, these bonuses are cumulative, which means Harbaugh can claim almost everything on the below list.

Big Ten Championships:

  • $500,000 for reaching the Big Ten title game
  • $1,000,000 for winning the Big Ten title game

Bowl Games:

  • $200,000 for reaching a New Year’s 6 Bowl OR
  • $500,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff
  • $1,00,000 for winning the National Championship

Coach of the Year:

  • $50,000 for being named Big Ten Coach of the Year
  • $75,000 for winning a National Coach of the Year award

Academic Incentive:

For each year that the team records an APR of 960 or higher (using both the NCAA’s single- and multi-year calculations), Harbaugh can receive up to $150,000, per the athletic director’s discretion.

Put it all together and, if Michigan wins the Big Ten championship, wins the national championship, Harbaugh sweeps the Coach of the Year awards, and the team performs well in the classroom, the university will cut Harbaugh a check worth up to $3,275,000. Academically, every one of Harbaugh’s teams at Michigan has posted an APR of 960 or better, and you have to go all the way back to 2007 when he was at San Diego to find a Harbaugh-coached team that did not hit that threshold.

Special Allowances & Perks

The Harbaugh bonus section of his contract isn’t as robust as some others, but there are plenty of perks to keep him happy in Ann Arbor, including a nice Nike apparel stipend for him to use as he pleases.

  • A Nike apparel bonus of $4,000 per year for personal use
  • The use of two automobiles
  • 16 tickets to all Michigan home football games and use of the head coach’s private box
  • Complementary best available tickets for other Michigan athletics events

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About The Author
Russell Steinberg
Russell Steinberg
Russell Steinberg is an editor and writer at Boardroom. He came to the brand in 2021 with a decade of experience in sports journalism, primarily covering college basketball at SB Nation as a writer, reporter, and blog manager. In a previous life, he worked as a social media strategist and copywriter, handling accounts ranging from sports retail to luxury hotels and financial technology. Though he has mastered the subtweet, he kindly requests you @ him next time.