Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was reportedly subpoenaed in a lawsuit involving former assistant Bret Bielema.
Things couldn’t possibly get worse for the New England Patriots this season, right? Not only are they in the midst of their longest losing streak of the Bill Belichick era, but they sit at 2-5 and only four teams in the NFL have made the playoffs after starting with that record through seven games.
Well, think again. On late Thursday night, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reported that Belichick has been subpoenaed in a lawsuit involving former Patriots assistant coach Brett Bielema and The Razorback Foundation, the latter of which raises funds for the University of Arkansas athletics department.
Essentially, Bielema was fired with a $12 million buyout after five seasons as head coach of Arkansas and was subsequently ordered to search for high-playing employment because his $125,000 salary wasn’t substantial enough to reduce the Razorbacks’ buyout payments.
This is an extremely sticky situation, but the following description from The Athletic should help clear things up.
"“Buyout clauses like Bielema’s are standard practice in college sports, but what is less standard is the vitriol that has ensued since Arkansas terminated Bielema on Nov. 24, 2017,” wrote Kaplan. “The Foundation alleges Bielema made no effort to find a high-paying job, and in January 2019 declared him in breach and stopped paying him with $7 million remaining on the contract. Bielema sued in June 2020, and the Foundation countersued.”"
That adds up, so how is Belichick involved? Great question. The Razorback Foundation is insisting that him, Bielema, and Neil Cornrich — the agent the former two share — conspired to get Bielema a job that intentionally wouldn’t compensate him enough to lower the buyout payment.
The lawsuit did acknowledge, however, that it’s possible Belichick wasn’t aware of the buyout ploy, if there even was a conspiracy plan, and his subpoena could have been for nothing.
Per court documents, the Foundation opted not to name Belichick and the Patriots as counter-defendants “in a conscious effort to go no further than necessary to defend the claim against it and to pursue its claims.”
Patriots fans probably held their breath when they saw Belichick’s name in a headline that featured the term “lawsuit,” but this doesn’t appear to be too serious. Either way, that is all the information provided at this time and we’ll provide further updates if and when they are made available.
In the meantime, all of our attention is focused on beating the winless Jets on Monday night.