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Bill Belichick Subpoenaed in Lawsuit over Arkansas' Bret Bielema Contract Buyout

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2020

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, speaks with defensive line coach Bret Bielema on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Razorback Foundation has subpoenaed New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as a part of the University of Arkansas' countersuit against its former head coach, Bret Bielema, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. 

Bielema worked in New England between 2018-19 after he was fired from his position as Arkansas' head coach. Per that report:

"Under terms of his nearly $12 million buyout, Bielema was obligated to make reasonable efforts to find employment that would mitigate or offset the amount.

"Bielema took the job with the Patriots as a consultant to Belichick for ultimately $125,000 annually, meaning none of the buyout was reduced because his pay was less than the minimum the contract set as shielded from the offset."

Bielema sued the Razorback Foundation in June for $7 million, claiming breach of contract after the foundation stopped paying his $12 million buyout in Jan. 2019. The Razorback Foundation has continued to argue that Bielema hasn't actively pursued high-paying employment that would counteract them paying out the settlement figure. 

Furthermore, Kaplan reported that Arkansas is claiming fraud against Bielema. Kaplan reported that the Foundation believes he, Belichick and their shared agent, Neil Cornrich, hatched a plan to get Bielema a job with the Patriots that would net him both his settlement pay and allow him to advance his career (though they also noted it was possible Belichick wasn't aware of the "scheme" they purported). 

They wrote the following in court papers:

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"The Foundation expressly pleaded that helping the Patriots hire Bielema for a low salary benefitted both of Cornrich's clients and therefore benefitted Cornrich. Bielema benefited...and the Patriots (and by extension Belichick) benefited by hiring a coach with years of college head coaching experience and three Rose Bowls for next to no pay. 

"The Counter-Defendants fraudulently obtained, with Cornrich's assistance, buyout payments that Bielema used like 'unemployment benefits' to support his affluent lifestyle for more than a year while he built an NFL resume so that he could obtain a high paying NFL position job once the Release Agreement (and his corresponding obligation to offset the Foundation's buyout payments) expired."

Belichick and the Patriots were not named as counter-defendants in the litigation, however. Bielema's attorney wrote in a sanctions motion that the foundation "has asserted without any evidence that Bielema's compensation was manipulated and fell far below: (a) what the Patriots have paid other staff members in comparable positions; and/or (b) what the Patriots would have been willing to pay Bielema."

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