Michigan AD Warde Manuel, President Santa Ono make statement’s on Jim Harbaugh’s departure

Fresh off winning the College Football Playoff National Championship, Michigan will be in need of a new head coach.

Wolverines athletics director Warde Manuel and university president Santa Ono released statements on social media Wednesday night upon the news of Jim Harbaugh’s departure for the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL.

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Here is Manuel’s full statement, including a mention that Michigan made an effort to “make Jim the highest paid coach in college football.”

“I want to thank Jim for everything he has done for our football program, athletic department and the University of Michigan over the past nine years,” Manuel stated. “Every day, he has worked extremely hard to elevate the stature of Michigan across the world, with the goal of winning championships and developing young men on and off the football field.

“Jim did exactly what he sought to do at Michigan, build our program to consistently win Big Ten Championships and compete for national championships, culminating with a record three straight outright conference titles and the national championship this year. He did the same off the field by graduating his players and providing life experiences through mentorships, internships and team trips around the globe.

“We have been discussing a new contract that would make Jim the highest paid coach in college football. In the end, he wanted to explore and ultimately decided to pursue a return to coaching in the NFL. We can’t thank Jim enough for all that he has done for our student-athletes, staff and Michigan Football. He will always be a huge part of our rich history, and will be remembered as an all-time great Wolverine, as both a championship player and coach.

“Jim has always been extremely upfront with his communication regarding NFL opportunities and has been helpful with this transition in leadership. We had a great conversation tonight when he informed me of this decision to return to the NFL and offered his assistance in helping identify the needs for the program moving forward.

“We are working quickly to hire the next head coach for the program and will do everything possible to keep this current staff and team together.

“We appreciate Jim’s dedication and passion for Michigan, the university and Ann Arbor, and I wish Jim and the entire Harbaugh family much success with the Los Angeles Chargers.”

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Ono described Michigan’s recent pursuit of a contract extension for Harbaugh and thanked him for his contributions to the program.

“We have been in talks with Jim Harbaugh for the last several weeks and have tried our best to retain him as our football coach,” Ono stated. “Jim called me (Wednesday) and let me know that he has made the difficult decision to leave Michigan and join the Los Angeles Chargers in pursuit of his NFL dreams.

“For the fans, the players, and for me personally, we are sad to hear of Jim’s departure. His drive and ambition turned our program around, delivered our first national championship in a quarter century and maintained Michigan as the all-time winningest team in the history of college football.

“I thank Jim for all he has done for the University of Michigan and respect his decision. He has been an extraordinary leader and a friend. I will be cheering for Jim as he embarks on this next adventure.”

According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Wolverines offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is “the favorite” to be named next head coach.