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Jim Harbaugh’s bonus total is highest on record in college, donating money to athletic staffers

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A big gesture, a big payday.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Last month Michigan head coach and his wife Sarah decided that any bonus money he’d receive during the 2021 season would be redirected to reimburse U-M athletic department employees took a voluntarily and mandatory pay cuts during the pandemic.

According to USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz, Harbaugh ends the season with a staggering $2 million in bonuses.

Berkowitz went on to say that it’s the highest bonus total for a public school football coach in USA Today’s history of tracking the data.

Much was made about Harbaugh taking a paycut and a pay decrease when he inked his five-year $21 million contract, which had a salary of $3.4 million in 2021 after making around $8 million previously — however, Harbaugh didn’t let his ego get in the way of his bigger goals at Michigan, and the incentives turned out to be fruitful.

Harbaugh has said that he isn’t motivated by money, saying earlier this week that he’d do the job for free because he loves it that much. Harbaugh said that the staffers have taken note of his gesture in endearing fashion.

“People have been very appreciative,” Harbaugh said this week. “I was really happy to be blessed to be in a position to be able to do that. Bo Schembechler has a saying here at Michigan. It says, ‘Those who stay will be champions,’ and it’s always resonated with me. Those that stayed through the pandemic when there was voluntary pay cuts, mandatory pay cuts, that kind of thing. ... Just to be able to reward those that stayed in that way was something that Sarah, my wife, and I wanted to do.”

Harbaugh bet on himself, and everyone won.