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Report: Arkansas subpoenas Bill Belichick in Bret Bielema buyout lawsuit

Arkansas is onto its second head coach since Bret Bielema's firing, but the Razorbacks still have not totally moved on from his tenure.

On Wednesday, The Athleticreported the Razorback Foundation subpoenaed Bill Belichick as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the school and its former coach over $7 million of Bielema's lawsuit.

The foundation alleges Bielema's camp conspired with the New England Patriots to pay on overqualified coach a below market salary in order for Bielema to work for the club with Arkansas paying his salary.

“The Foundation expressly pleaded that helping the Patriots hire Bielema for a low salary benefitted both of (Neil) Cornrich’s clients and therefore benefitted Cornrich,” the organization wrote in court papers Tuesday. “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.”

Like many of its kind, the language of Bielema's contract with Arkansas required him to pursue high-paying employment should Arkansas fire him without cause. Following his 2017 dismissal, Bielema spent the 2018 season as a consultant to Bill Belichick, and the school alleges that Bielema's camp conspired with the Patriots to pay him a below-market rate while Arkansas continued paying his buyout.

Bielema made a reported $125,000 in 2018, which was below the offset amount as laid out in his contract.

Bielema remained with New England as the club's defensive line coach in 2019 before joining Joe Judge's New York Giants staff as outside linebackers coach. His salary at those posts is not public information.

Arkansas declared Bielema in breach of contract last January and stopped paying his buyout with $7 million left in the deal, which triggered a lawsuit from Bielema. The school counter-sued, leading to Belichick's involvement.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.