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Updates on Negotiations Between Jim Harbaugh and Michigan

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Having interviewed with the Chargers yesterday, Jim Harbaugh is once again firmly in the running for an NFL return. His candidacy for a coaching gig at the pro level has helped give him substantial leverage in negotiating a new Michigan contract as well, however.

The national champions have long been in talks with Harbaugh on a new contract, and a number of terms on that hypothetical pact appear to have been worked out. A major sticking point, however, pertains to the matter of potential discipline handed down by the NCAA over Harbaugh’s involvement in Michigan’s various scandals. Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel reports Harbaugh is seeking a number of provisions in his new Wolverines contract if he elects to remain with the school

Specifically, Harbaugh is aiming to have a clause included in his pact which will prevent Michigan from being able to fire him as a result of any NCAA sanctions brought about by its ongoing investigations. In addition, the 60-year-old wants any potential ‘for-cause’ termination decision to be made by a three-member arbitration panel. Traditionally, such matters would be handled by athletic director Warde Manuel, who under Harbaugh’s proposed terms would still be able to fire him for on-field reasons.

After Michigan went undefeated en route to the national championship (a feat accomplished in spite of Harbaugh being suspended for the three games to begin and end the regular season), interest from the NFL has once again picked up. The Chargers have been connected to him early and often this offseason, but plenty of buzz linking him to the Raiders has existed as well. No matter how the 2024 hiring cycle plays out, Harbaugh will be able to secure a lucrative contract for 2024.

On that note, Wetzel adds Harbaugh is seeking to have the start date of his latest Michigan extension delayed. As things currently stand, an NFL team would be required to pay a buyout of $1.5MM to hire Harbaugh away. The school is aiming to raise that figure to roughly $4MM. Harbaugh wants to push back the point at which that happens to February 15 – in other words, after this year’s NFL coaching hires have been made – per Wetzel. That request, coupled with Harbaugh’s decision to hire an agent, continue to point toward an NFL return.

Harbaugh enjoyed a successful run with the 49ers from 2011-14, and he discussed NFL openings in each of the past two offseasons. If 2024 proves to represent the year in which he made the jump, it will have come after a lengthy negotiating period with his alma mater. If not, he will have protection against NCAA discipline, something which would likely help his market with respect to future NFL opportunities.

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