So you ask the CS chair at USND if you can spend the next year as a MIT postdoc before going to USND. The chair needs you to teach algorithms that spring. Also if you don't take the job, he may lose the position to the music department. What are his choices?
- Say no, that you have to start this fall or not come at all. This runs the risk that you will not accept the USND position.
- Say yes and find someone else to cover algorithms. This has a different risk, that you might find some other job and not come to USND at all.
Someone I know (not CS) turned down an academic job she had promised to take. The school sent her a bill for $12,000 to cover the expenses of finding someone else to cover the classes. She didn't pay.
One economic solution: The chair agrees to the postdoc but requires you to pony up $12,000 now which you will get with interest when you start at USND. Trouble is most grad students don't have $12,000 to pony up and probably would walk away from a school making this offer.
This would be much easier if universities worked like baseball teams. In order to get you, Michigan could offer USND Seth Pettie and a grad student to be named later.