May 29, 2024

Jim Harbaugh, the coach of Michigan football, was serving the third game of a three-game suspension on Saturday; however, according to his contract with the university, he will receive a $500,000 bonus if the Wolverines defeat Ohio State 30-24 to win the Big Ten Conference East Division title and advance to the conference championship game.

Due to his involvement in the program’s sign-stealing scandal, the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh on November 10 for the balance of the regular season.

Michigan was deemed by the conference to have “conducted an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition, in violation of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy.”

Harbaugh was prohibited from attending Michigan’s games at Penn State and Maryland in addition to the one on Saturday. However, he was able to participate in the planning and attend practises.

Next Saturday, the conference title game between the No. 3-ranked Wolverines (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) and Iowa (10-2, 7-2) in Indianapolis will allow him to rejoin the sidelines. Harbaugh will get an additional $1.5 million in bonuses if Michigan wins that game, which includes $1 million for winning the Big Ten title and $500,000 for the team’s almost certain trip to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

According to Harbaugh’s contract with Michigan, he will receive the designated bonus if the team meets specific performance targets and he “remains employed as head coach at the time of the applicable game.”

Harbaugh “will have earned and fully vested in any of the performance payments… at the time that the relevant game is played,” according to the agreement.

There is no clause in the contract requiring Harbaugh to be present on the sidelines for a game when the team achieves a goal that earns a bonus.

Kurt Svoboda, a spokesman for Michigan athletics, responded via email to a question from USA TODAY Sports earlier this week regarding Harbaugh’s bonuses, saying, “We plan on honouring the terms of the contract.”

In some cases, especially when it comes to conference championship and bowl games, head coaches are required by their contracts to lead the team in a game that earns a bonus. For instance, Houston’s contract with Dana Holgorsen expressly states that he must coach the team in the game in order for him to be eligible for bonuses related to the team’s participation in a bowl game or conference championship game.

According to Harbaugh’s contract with Michigan, the university would have to pay him a prescribed buyout if it fired him without cause, but otherwise, “the University shall not be liable for the loss of any base salary, additional compensation, bonus payments.”

Harbaugh would be “paid any Annual Base Salary and Additional Compensation accrued but unpaid (and any performance bonuses earned but unpaid) prior to termination,” though, if he was fired for cause.

“[e]xcept for payment of any Base Compensation, Additional Compensation, Team Performance Bonuses earned, but unpaid, as of the effective date of termination,” all payments stop if Harbaugh ends the agreement.

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