Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said Tuesday that he and coach Jim Harbaugh will sit down after the season to discuss any type of extension and where the program is headed.
“How rumors get started about things before Jim and I sit down and have a conversation, I’m not going to get into,” Manuel said. “That’s not for me to try to track down, but that’s where that is, and that’s where we’ll be at the end of the season.”
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Manuel had offered a contract extension to Harbaugh.
Harbaugh’s contract is not up until the end of the 2021 season, but uncertainty around the future and the current record of the team have brought more scrutiny as to why an extension hasn’t been made public or if that means the two sides can’t come to an agreement.
Manuel, who said the end of the season to him meant after Dec. 19, said he didn’t want anyone to think the two haven’t had extensive conversations throughout the year.
“Just to clarify, Jim and I have always talked at the end of the season. Always,” Manuel said. “So this is not a ‘we’re making this up this year,'” Manuel said. “We sit down, we talk. Sometimes we’ll talk in November and just in general to get a sense, and we’ve had a lot of conversations in between. It’s not like we don’t talk.
“Sometimes [we talk] daily, depending on the issues. Sometimes weekly. I don’t want to make anybody feel, or think, that Jim and I have been sitting around just waiting and not talking to each [other] about this. We’ve had a lot to talk about.”
Harbaugh has deflected questions about his contract status and his thoughts about possibly getting a new deal.
“All our energies have been focused on this season,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “Health and safety and football. Getting the guys the training they need. Preparing each and every week for the opponent we’re playing. We still consider ourselves in that season. And when you’re in that, that’s where you focus all your energies.”
Without a contract extension in place and with the early signing period starting Dec. 16, there have been questions about whether the uncertainty could impact recruiting. Michigan currently has the No. 14 recruiting class in the country, with 10 ESPN 300 commitments in the class.
When asked whether he was concerned about negative recruiting, Manuel said it’s something the program has dealt with in the past.
“Negative recruiting occurs all the time,” Manuel said. “All the time. So I’ll let it at that.”
Manuel made it very clear he approves of the leadership Harbaugh has shown through this unique season.
“Jim has been a leader and phenomenal in his efforts with his team. He has co-chaired, along with [softball coach Carol Hutchins], our COVID coaches. He has led that; he’s been there,” Manuel said. “He’s committed to his team, he’s committed to this department, he’s committed to this university. So from my standpoint, he has been doing everything at a high level, including his efforts with the team.
“From that perspective, I just don’t want people to get the sense that we’re just sitting around and nobody’s talking to each other and we’re waiting and waiting. That is the furthest thing from the truth. We’ve had a lot to do and a lot of other things to talk about.”
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