Patriots find themselves caught in litigation between Bret Bielema, Razorback Foundation

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Coaches who get fired with years remaining on guaranteed contracts have two options: Don’t work and get paid 100 cents on the dollar by the former employer or take a job and see the amount owed from the former employer reduced by the money earned at a new job.

Basically, the coach who takes another job usually will end up working for free, unless he somehow makes more money in his new job.

If the coach takes a new job, there’s a temptation by the coach and the new employer to pay the coach peanuts, in order to maximize the financial obligation of the former employer. Michael McCann of Sportico.com explains that a subplot along those lines has emerged in litigation between former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and the Razorback Foundation, and that the New England Patriots currently are caught in the crossfire.

The lawyer representing the Razorback Foundation has suggested in a letter to the presiding judge that Bielema and agent Neil Cornrich hatched a “scheme” that would “place Bielema in a low-paying position with the Patriots while he was still receiving payments from the Foundation.” The Patriots strongly dispute this interpretation of 458 pages of documents produced by the team regarding the hiring and employment of Bielema.

“The Patriots, paid Mr. Bielema a fair and reasonable sum for this work and undoubtedly could have offered him substantially less for the work he performed,” Patriots lawyer Brandon Bigelow wrote in response to the Razorback Foundation’s lawyer.

Per McCann, the Razorback Foundation has implied that the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick could be added to the litigation regarding Bielema’s buyout. Such a tactic would make it difficult, frankly, for Arkansas to hire top-level coaches in the future and for former Arkansas coaches to find employment elsewhere after being fired.

Even without actually suing the Patriots or Belichick, any effort to whittle away at the sunk costs from a failed former coach will make a prospective coach reluctant about landing in that very same spot. The whole thing makes the Razorback Foundation look cheap, petty, and vindictive.

Bigelow made that same point, in more artful language.

“It is obvious that what the Foundation is really doing is seeking improper leverage in a simple breach of contract dispute with a former coach,” Bigelow wrote to Foundation’s lawyer. “As this matter proceeds, you also should consider how it might appear to others for the Foundation to be asserting frivolous claims against and harassing a professional football team for simply providing an opportunity to a fired college football coach.”

The case between Bielema and the Razorback Foundation currently is scheduled to go to trial on June 1.

22 responses to “Patriots find themselves caught in litigation between Bret Bielema, Razorback Foundation

  1. Imagine that, the Patriots involved in a “scheme”. Just can’t believe they would try and cheat the system.

  2. Knowing Belichick he probably just hired him to help with the draft so he could continue to ignore his own scouting department.

  3. One of the perks of hiring someone with a 2nd income. They might not need all that much from you and will be happy to just be back in the game. It isn’t a scheme if it is in the open and everyone knows it is going one, even the ones who fired the employee while still under contract. IMO he should be able to pull both salaries no questions asked.

  4. Imagine the low IQ crowd Immediately posting the tired cheating mantra everytime the Pats are mentioned. Still butthurt I guess.

  5. If the rules state that, then I don’t see the issue. I don’t like the rule, we don’t get that
    Option in real life but if this is how they do it, the pats did nothing wrong.

    It’s the same as the Cleveland fumble, this is all being done within the letter of the law. Maybe the “law”
    Needs to change.

  6. The clauses are in those contracts for a reason. Not much different than the offsets that Joey Bosa and the chargers were haggling about after he was drafted.

    The main thing is for the coach to be paid close to fair market.

  7. How many different cheating methods have the patriots been caught with now? Just imagine the other cheating methods they got away with. Brady is the biggest fraud in the history of sports.

  8. If Bielema has an agent, wouldn’t said agent be the one negotiating the contract? Wouldn’t the agent and their client have a set amount of salary in mind? So to me it’s the agent that sets the money, then it’s up to the team to accept it or negotiate it!

  9. Suck it up, Razorbacks. You gave a guy an extended contract with guaranteed salary, then fired him. You, and the army of university attorneys understood the financial risks, so deal with it.

  10. jerryjonessaidwhat says:
    January 23, 2021 at 1:29 pm
    The Pats and something shady..

    go together like cookies and milk

    Translation— I only read the Headline

  11. Hired as a consultant, paid $125K, Razorback Foundation calls it “next to no pay” to try and avoid paying Bielema the millions they’re contractually obligated to pay him.

    But sure let’s talk some more about those dirty Patriots gaming the system.

  12. Sounds like Arkansas is pissed off it overpaid the guy and is looking for a way to cut their losses.

  13. thermanmerman99 says:
    January 23, 2021 at 2:31 pm
    How many different cheating methods have the patriots been caught with now? Just imagine the other cheating methods they got away with. Brady is the biggest fraud in the history of sports.

    My guess is you never read the article.

  14. Ole Bob Kraft should just sick some IRS Auditor on this “Razorback Foundation” and I’d
    just about bet my last dollar they’ve done something shady!! Like payoff a cheerleader
    that was under 21, drunk at a frat party attended by a bunch of players, yada yada yada!
    Finance a car for the star player at (whatever position), funnel some money out then back
    in to make it look like the star player is making the payments. ETC. ETC. ETC.

  15. The Patriots, paid Mr. Bielema a fair and reasonable sum for this work and undoubtedly could have offered him substantially less for the work he performed

    A reasonable sum for Bielema would be minimum wage.

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