Jim Harbaugh has Michigan Clause in his Contract?

Submitted by SFBlue on December 14th, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Jim Harbaugh has a clause that allows him to leave to Michigan without penalty. Or so goes the rumor, passed on to me by a booster at a Pac-10 school that is not Stanford.



December 15th, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

If you are a lawyer, your "santa clause" comment is grounds for disbarment. Bet you didn't know that.

Even judges are getting turned out for anything even smelling of racism. There was a girl judge down in Detroit, her soon to be ex husband taped her in a private conversation with him using the "N" word. Booted.

Meanwhile, abuse of office, failing to appear for court, and using court letterhead to raise funds for a fake charity all get a wrist slap.

Further, a black judge in Lansing was doing the trifecta, skipping court, letting people out of jail for favors, and faking court documents. She was going to get a handslap but she played the race card on the chief judge long and hard. The system turned around and booted her, as well, since she played the race card without cause.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:25 PM ^

seriously doubt this is true. Friend of a friend of a friend stuff like this usually isn't.

That being said, if the shit hits the fan this year and RR gets run out of town, that would be incredibly convenient...until: LES MILES SYNDROME.


December 14th, 2009 at 3:56 PM ^

Let's hope that RichRod realizes the success we all wish upon him next year, but should that not happen, Les Miles will be 57 next November. My guess,assuming Miles doesn't have Joe Pa's genetic disposition, is that age will be a factor weighing against Miles should a coaching change occur.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:27 PM ^

Are you sure it isn't the other way around? I would think he would have a clause in his contract that would prevent him from going to Michigan without penalty...


December 14th, 2009 at 3:45 PM ^

Yes, if by both ways you mean the university having a general liquidated damages (buyout) clause in the contract. I'm not familiar with any coaching contracts that adjust the buyout on such a clause based on the school the coach breaks the contract in favor of. On the other hand, many coaches have a general buyout clause with an exclusion for certain schools contained in the contract.


December 14th, 2009 at 5:44 PM ^

It was widely reported back in 2004 that Meyer had an exception for ND, Ohio State, and Michigan written into his contract.

Edit - example:

Meyer received a contract extension last summer that included a clause allowing him to leave Utah without penalty if he is hired as head coach at Michigan, Ohio State or Notre Dame.



December 14th, 2009 at 6:04 PM ^

Exactly my point. Mobility in coaching contacts always favors the coach. If the coach's agent is any good at all he'll get such exceptions placed into a contract. A school cannot do anything other than place a buyout clause in a coach's contract.

My point was that I have never seen the buyout work the other way around, meaning that that if said coach broke his contract to go to a school like ND (let's say it's listed in the damages clause) the buyout would be more than if the coach went to another random (unlisted) school such as Tulsa.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:38 PM ^

Agreed. The worst thing possible for Harbaugh would be to go the institution that cruelly denied him the opportunity to major in history. Who knows how many Pulitzers for history writing would Harbaugh have won by now if it weren't for that heartless Bo Schembechler?


December 14th, 2009 at 2:54 PM ^

I have no idea what is/isn't in Harbaugh's contract, but it makes little sense for the provision to specifically penalize Harbaugh for defecting to Michigan. Clearly, it is in Stanford's interest to create a disincentive for Harbaugh to leave Stanford to coach any other school. If Harbaugh does defect, however, it would make little difference to Stanford where Harbaugh continues his coaching career, unless it is with one of Stanford's direct rivals.

Although the two cross-recruit from time to time, Stanford is not likely to expend any bargaining power to include a Michigan-specific penalty because the programs rarely compete against one another on a direct level. Moreover, Harbaugh could potentially circumvent such a provision by agreeing to coach Ann Arbor Huron for a month immediately prior to taking the U of M job (and it's also possible that precluding Harbaugh from coaching at a school which isn't a direct competitor would be deemed an unreasonable restraint on trade in violation of the Sherman Act). While Stanford may recognize that Michigan poses a greater threat of attracting Harbaugh than Ball St., a general disincentives clause will protect Stanford against both Michigan and the field. In short, it makes most sense for Stanford to direct its efforts to negotiating a large, general disincentives clause.

If there is a Michigan-specific clause in Harbaugh's contract, it is most likely because Harbaugh negotiated for it when he accepted his current position. As an attorney, I can confirm that these types of contracts are not uncommon and would not be terribly surprised if the OP's information was correct.


December 14th, 2009 at 4:02 PM ^

My guess, without knowing when Harbaugh's contract was finally signed, sealed and delivered, is that Harbaugh had considerable leverage as he was mentioned as a possibility to replace Weis at ND or be the coach at Kansas.

A Michigan contingency to opt out might have presented very little opposition. It is amazing how much leverage winning can yield.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:29 PM ^

I'm having trouble determining if this is a good thing or not. On the one hand obviously it's a nod to Michigan from a great coach and excellent alum. On the other hand (and arguably the more damaging one) this acts as some incredibly flammable fuel for the Rich Rod hater's fire.

I wish I could go without hearing this again for an indefinite amount of time but I seriously doubt it.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:57 PM ^

Just win, RichRod. Winning cures virtually everything (except NCAA violations).

I think this clause, if true, is great news because it suggests that Harbaugh is at least cognizant of the possibility. If RichRod wins, its a non sequitor. If he doesn't, then we have a savior waiting in the wings.


December 14th, 2009 at 7:48 PM ^

These types of clauses are not that unusual, and I bet that coaches at many programs have similar provisions for certain schools (assuming, in fact, Harbaugh has such a clause... he signed a three-year extension today, and ESPN et al. reported no such provision). Did Kelly have an ND clause?

FWIW, I had no ulterior motive in making this post. I just happened to have a conversation today in which this was asserted. Indeed, I think Harbaugh is probably a better fit with an NFL team, and I personally am not sure I could get comfortable with some aspects of Harbaugh, especially taking the shot he did at the program, publicly and repeatedly, and to Lloyd Carr, who is a decent man--who did not deserve to take a shot like that--and one of Bo's guys to boot.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:33 PM ^

—not to mention room at Schembechler Hall—for a 500 sq ft. $100,000 crapper? Who is the wealthy donor that wants his money to be used for the disposal of Jimmy's excremental offerings? I don't think even Steve Ross is interested in making the "Steven R. Ross Toilet Seat" possible, even if it's cast out of solid gold.

turbo cool

December 14th, 2009 at 2:45 PM ^

This is not uncommon. Many college FB coaches have 'out-clauses' for specific schools written into their contracts(usually 1-3; 3 tops). More often than not, these schools are generally those that the coaches attended.


December 14th, 2009 at 2:58 PM ^

1). With Stanford being a private school, Harbaugh's contract cannot be FOIAed, so this can be the source of speculation which leads nowhere unless somehow the contract leaks.

2). It is possible that Harbaugh did have the Michigan clause in his contract, but it's also possible that Stanford may have asked him to remove it as a part of the negotiation over his new, rather lucrative, extension. Because we do not have facts, just speculation, hearsay, and dare I say some wishful thinking, we're just not going to know.

Raback Omaba

December 14th, 2009 at 3:14 PM ^

Rich Rodriguez will win enough next year to make Harbaugh's "Michigan Clause" moot. In 2011 we will see Michigan compete for the National Championship and a real BCS birth, with a pre season #1 ranking in 2012.

Jim Harbaugh will leave Stanford for the NFL when all is said and done.


December 14th, 2009 at 4:50 PM ^

How many wins is "enough" for RR next year? I'm pretty sure that five wins or less won't cut it. Eight wins or more would probably be safe territory. It's that six and seven win level that I'm not sure about. Will that be "enough"?


December 14th, 2009 at 5:33 PM ^

Not even Coleman/future AD. I bet if the wins only total 6-7, it'll depend heavily on quality of wins and losses--25-point embarrassments to Illinois will most likely not be tolerated, while an upset of the Bucks to become bowl eligible (please God, don't let it come to that) will probably keep him around.


December 14th, 2009 at 5:36 PM ^

Not even Coleman/future AD. I bet if the wins only total 6-7, it'll depend heavily on quality of wins and losses--25-point embarrassments to Illinois will most likely not be tolerated, while an upset of the Bucks to become bowl eligible (please God, don't let it come to that) will probably keep him around.
And if both happens then it's head asplode time


December 14th, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

It probably doesn't matter either way. People made a big deal of the fact that Urban Meyer, when he was at Utah, had a no-buyout clause for Michigan, ND and OSU, but his buyout was only like $500,000 in the first place. Harbaugh's buyout is probably nothing an interested school couldn't afford.


December 14th, 2009 at 5:04 PM ^

Harbaugh waited to see if RR was fired this year before signing the extension with Stanford. You would have to think that he is setting his situation up so that if the Michigan job becomes available, he will be ready to take it.

Angry or not about his comments, he really is the perfect man for this program.