Ohio State win earns Michigan’s Harbaugh a bonus of $500,000

For a second consecutive year, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh’s list of incentive bonuses earned will start with a $500,000 payment for winning the Big Ten Conference East Division title —  a goal again achieved with a victory over archrival Ohio State.

Saturday’s win, Michigan’s first in Columbus since 2000, gives Harbaugh the chance to repeat his 2021-22 bonus bonanza of more than $2.2 million. Most of that would come if the Wolverines claim a second consecutive Big Ten championship next weekend. That title gives Harbaugh a $1 million bonus. Because it would also put Michigan into the College Football Playoff semifinals, Harbaugh’s separate bowl-appearance bonus would be $500,000.

In terms of one-time pay available this season, Harbaugh’s bonus structure is the second-most lucrative for a head coach at Bowl Subdivision public school, according to USA TODAY Sports’ annual survey of football coaches’ pay. He could end up with $3.275 million. (Former Arizona State coach Herm Edwards, who departed the school in September, began the season with a maximum of just under $5.6 million in bonuses available to him. Other head coaches can attain automatic contract extensions that have more overall value to the coaches.)

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Harbaugh’s bonus structure has its origins in the contract he and Michigan negotiated prior to the 2021 season – a deal also included Harbaugh’s basic annual pay being cut by $4.05 million. As part of that arrangement, Harbaugh’s incentives were dramatically increased from the $125,000 he had been able to receive if the Wolverines played in the Big Ten title game and the additional $125,000 he had been able to get if they won it.

After Michigan’s success last season, the parties renegotiated again. Harbaugh’s basic pay for the 2022 season was restored to $8.05 million, but the enhanced bonus package was kept intact.

Last year, two days after Michigan beat Ohio State to win the Big Ten East, Harbaugh announced that all of the bonus money he would be owed for the football team’s success during the 2021 season would be redirected to members of the department who had taken pandemic-related pay cuts during an 11-month stretch of 2020 and 2021 and had remained on the payroll.

In the end, 210 employees received a combined total of just over $1.5 million, according to information USA TODAY Sports obtained from the university under an open-records request.

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