At a time when college football players still get nothing beyond tuition, room, board, and snacks, a former NFL coach who runs the program at Michigan has finagled an impressive new contractual commitment. Which Michigan undoubtedly was able to afford because it doesn’t have to pay the football players.
In response to a recent report that Michigan is “loaning” Jim Harbaugh $4 million this year and $2 million for each of the next five for life insurance premiums, I asked an insurance expert to estimate the proceeds of the policy, if Harbaugh were to, um, satisfy the requirements of triggering coverage during the term of the policy. The expert, who asked not to be named due to current work with college football coaches in the procurement of life insurance, estimates based on the reported information that the policy would pay out a total benefit of approximately $75 million.
Michigan, under the terms of the loan, would get its premium payment back if Harbaugh, for example, develops pneumonia and dies after a Gatorade bath while the six-year policy is effective. Although Harbaugh’s beneficiaries are guaranteed to get at last 150 percent of the premiums paid, they stand to get a lot more than that, given the magnitude of coverage that a premium of that size can procure.
As explained by ESPN.com, the premium payments stop if Harbaugh quits or is fired, and if the policy thereafter is canceled, Harbaugh will be required to pay the money back. This means, as a practical matter, that he’d need to persuade his next employer to continue to make the payments if he leaves — or that he’d have to pay the proceeds out of his own pocket if he’s fired.
Meanwhile, at a time when Harbaugh’s life is insured for $75 million over the next six years, Clemson has paid for a paltry $5 million in insurance for quarterback Deshaun Watson in the event he suffers a career-ending injury while playing football in 2016 for tuition, room, board, and snacks. It’s a drop in the bucket of what Watson potentially would earn during his NFL career, if he’s one of the top draft picks and if he becomes a quality starting quarterback.
UPDATE 12:37 p.m. ET: PFT has obtained a copy of the agreement between Harbaugh and Michigan. It will be digested and analyzed and explained once I figure out how to digest and analyze and explain it.