Jim Harbaugh Michigan Contract: Are College Football Coaches Overpaid for a Reason?


Jim Harbaugh does not think he is worth $5 million per year, but his recent comments are not likely to do anything but stir a debate or two.

Speaking with Charlie LeDuff, of Fox 2 Detroit, Harbaugh said he would not give the money back or take a pay cut to make a point. Like most in the U.S., Michigan's highest paid state employee is a college basketball or football coach.

"I like making a buck just like the next guy," Harbaugh told LeDuff. "I'm not doing five times as much work as somebody else or doing more work than someone who's not the head football coach at the University of Michigan so to answer your question honestly I would have to say no."

Deadspin published a report in May 2013 that showed only 11 states whose highest paid employee was not a football or basketball coach. This is the case in 39 states because football makes money. College football is a multi-billion-dollar industry and, as Deadspin noted, that money often stays in the athletic department.

As nonprofit institutions that receive federal funding, these schools are able to use their massive revenue to hire the most effective coaches, provide the best student-athletes with an education and build state-of-the-art facilities for them to play and train in.

Unlike those student-athletes they have been put in charge of, coaches can market their name, image and likeness all they want, Deadspin reported. On top of their base salary and potential incentives, coaches can sign apparel deals, earn money for public appearances and more.

"In terms of the value to the university, I think he'll probably be worth it," Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan, told LeDuff. "Is there something a little bit unusual that he's paid much more than the university president or much more than anybody else on campus? You know, that's the way the world is."

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