Michigan's Jim Harbaugh says he would take less salary if it meant college athletes would be paid

FILE - Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches warmups before an NCAA college football game against Ohio State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Michigan won 42-27. (AP Photo/Tony Ding, File) (Tony Ding, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is ready to take less money if it means college football players and other athletes would be paid.

“For the players to be compensated, I'm using my voice, and I would take less money for the players to have a share. I hope other coaches would use their voice to express the same thing," Harbaugh said Sunday.

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Harbaugh, a longtime advocate for paying players, made his comment during a news conference to preview his team's Big Ten championship game against Iowa on Saturday in Indianapolis. He said he was reminded of the sacrifice athletes make when offensive lineman Zak Zinter broke his leg in the third quarter of the Wolverines' 30-24 win over Ohio State.

“Who can be against the players being compensated for what they do, or at least even minimum wage? I mean, who could argue against that when there’s injury or not?” said Harbaugh, whose base salary is $7.63 million this year with an additional $3 million in bonuses possible.

Athletes are able to make money from their name, image and likeness, but are not paid directly by schools.

College athletics have never been more lucrative for schools and coaches. The Big Ten is in the first year of a seven-year television contract worth $1 billion per year, fueling a dramatic rise in coaches' salaries and spending on athletic facilities.

Harbaugh said the Ohio State-Michigan game was the biggest sporting event of the week, judging by how many promotions for the game he saw on television.

“The buildup and the hype and the talk about players' legacies and everything that could possibly be rolled into one game, on the line, and then you see the amount of people that are benefiting financially from those players' efforts out there,” Harbaugh said. “I ask other coaches to get on board, to use their platform, their voice for the student-athletes — not just football players, all student-athletes — to be sharing in this ever increasing revenue.”

Harbaugh has completed his three-game sideline suspension for violating the Big Ten sportsmanship policy in connection to the Michigan sign-stealing scandal. He will be back on the sideline this week when the Wolverines (12-0) try for their third straight Big Ten championship. Iowa (10-2) is a 22 1/2-point underdog, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.


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