Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh returned to the sideline Saturday night from a three-game suspension and walked off field with $1.5 million in bonuses, as the Wolverines defeated Iowa 26-0 in the Big Ten Conference championship game in Indianapolis.
The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the last three games of the regular season on Nov. 10 for his role in the program’s sign-stealing scandal.
But for a third consecutive year, the Wolverines marched past Ohio State for first place the Big Ten East Division and won the conference title with an overall season record (13-0) that surely will put them in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Harbaugh gets $1 million for winning the Big Ten championship and he’ll get $500,000 when the team is selected for the playoff, which won’t become official until Sunday’s selection committee announcement.
Those amounts will go with the $500,000 that Harbaugh claimed with last week’s division-deciding win over Ohio State, and make this the third year in a row in he will be entitled to at least $2 million in bonuses. There are at least 52 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches who were set to make less than that amount this season in basic annual pay from their schools, according to USA TODAY Sports’ annual compensation survey.
According to Harbaugh's contract, he will not be able to add to his bonus total for this season unless the Wolverines win the national championship, an achievement that would give him another $1 million. He could, however, get up to $150,000 more at athletics director Warde Manuel’s discretion depending on the team’s NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores. (Harbaugh is contractually eligible to get bonuses for coach-of-the-year awards, but the Big Ten prize went to Northwestern’s David Braun, and it seems unlikely that Harbaugh will win a national honor.)
HIGHS AND LOWS: Winners and losers from championship weekend
The origin of Harbaugh’s bonus setup
During his first six seasons as Michigan’s coach, Harbaugh worked under a seven-year contract that gave him an average of more than $7.6 million in basic annual pay from the school and included a set of incentive bonuses that annually had a maximum total of $1.325 million.
After the Wolverines went 9-4 in 2019 and 2-4 in the pandemic-affected 2020 season, Harbaugh and the school agreed to a new, five-year deal that dropped his pay from the school to $4 million, but increased his maximum bonus total to $3.475 million.
That set of bonuses included $500,000 for winning the Big Ten East outright, $1 million for winning the Big Ten title, $500,000 for a College Football Playoff semifinal appearance and $1 million for winning the national championship.
Harbaugh’s current contract
In 2021, Michigan won the Big Ten title for the first time in 17 seasons and advanced to the CFP semifinals. Harbaugh ended up redirecting about $1.5 million of his bonus money to members of the Michigan athletics department who had taken pandemic-related pay cuts during an 11-month stretch of 2020 and 2021 and had remained on the payroll.
After that season, Harbaugh and Michigan again renegotiated their contract. His basic pay from the school was increased to $8.05 million, but the package of incentives was kept almost intact, dropping only to $3.275 million.
He is scheduled to make nearly $8.2 million from the school for this season.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jim Harbaugh gets $1.5 million in bonuses with Michigan's Big Ten title