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Jim Harbaugh doubles down on advocacy for college athletes on ‘Inside Michigan Football’

Michigan’s head coach once again commented on the nature of college sports.

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In the second half of Saturday’s win over Bowling Green, senior Bowling Green linebacker Demetrius Hardamon was carted off the field after suffering a frightening looking injury while attempting to make a tackle.

As of Sunday, Hardamon is in stable condition, however his status for the remainder of the season and beyond remains in question, and his injury is a stark reminder of the risks college athletes face, while also bringing attention to the disadvantages they are subject to.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh referenced Hardamon’s injury during his most recent appearance on the “Inside Michigan Football” radio show on Monday night. He expressed gratitude the Wolverines came out of the game healthy, but offered a reminder to those who don’t recognize the risk athletes face.

“These guys get hurt out there — some serious stuff can happen,” Harbaugh said. “I’d ask people to consider that when they say these guys shouldn’t be getting minimum wage for their efforts out there.”

During the show, Harbaugh and Jon Jansen both pointed to their experience as players in the NFL, and the structure of being covered under worker’s compensation for injuries. Jansen specifically mentioned that under the system, he has the ability to have certain medical treatments or rehab programs covered as a result of injuries suffered while playing in the league.

The NCAA recently did announce a program for post-eligibility injury insurance for college athletes. The system goes into effect in 2024 and covers college athletes for two years following the ends of their college careers, and also covers any injury suffered during competition. While this system does represent a step in the right direction for the NCAA, such a system might be long overdue and wouldn’t support the countless former athletes who might still be affected by their injuries.

Harbaugh famously made some headlines before the season during a press conference when he advocated for reform and a system of revenue sharing for college athletes. At the time, he spoke about the current NIL (name, image, and likeness) structure as well as major media rights deals that are driven by the efforts of college athletes.

He doubled down on his desire for change on Monday night, as well as the fact the athletes are the key cog in the machine.

“If it’s something like deferred compensation, that would be more. If it’s health benefits, that would be really good. It’s gotta be more than what it is,” Harbaugh said in reference to the structures currently in place for college athletes. “People go to see (the players) play, they’re not going to see me.”

A host of changes are on deck in college football next year in the form of playoff expansion and mass conference realignment. These changes are primarily the result of a desire to increase profits in the industry, while the players continue to simply be pawns in the game. Harbaugh’s comments and concerns should certainly be music to the ears of athletes who continue to be exploited by the system.