Jim Harbaugh says he was close to extension at Michigan before pandemic

Jim Harbaugh's thoughts on coronavirus, contract extension (2:16)

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh discusses playing football during the coronavirus pandemic, and his contract expiring after the 2021 season. (2:16)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that he was closing in on a contract extension before coping with the coronavirus pandemic became a top priority for all involved in the discussions.

"There's bigger fish to fry for our athletic director, or our administration, me as a coach," Harbaugh said during a video interview. "It hasn't been on the top of the priority list. I would expect something, that there would be an announcement at some time."

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has said more than once that he wants Harbaugh to lead the Wolverines until he chooses to retire from coaching.

Harbaugh has two years left on a deal that pays him about $7 million per year. He is 47-18 over five seasons in charge of college football's winningest program. Although Harbaugh has won nearly three-fourths of the overall games, he is 0-5 against rival Ohio State and has lost four straight bowl games.

Manuel, who, like Harbaugh, is a former Michigan football player, has been happy enough with the results on and off the field to engage in talks to retain the coach beyond the 2021 season.

"It was kind of right there [in] February, where it was being discussed, and then the pandemic hit," Harbaugh said.

During the 2019 season, Harbaugh sent parents of players on his team an email that refuted a report saying representatives were working on his departure. Harbaugh was an NFL head coach in San Francisco. He returned in 2015 to the school where he was a star quarterback after going 44-19-1 with the 49ers and winning the 2012 NFC championship.

In a wide-ranging interview with reporters, Harbaugh also said Dr. Robert Anderson was his family's physician when he was growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and gave him annual physicals each season before he played for the Wolverines in the 1980s.

"Never anything inappropriate," Harbaugh said. "Nor did I hear of anything that was inappropriate about Dr. Anderson."

The university, which is facing many lawsuits relating to alleged sexual abuse by Anderson, has acknowledged that some campus employees were aware of accusations against the doctor before a complaint two years ago that led to a police investigation. Anderson worked at the university from the mid-1960s through 2003. He died in 2008.