Sports | November 5, 2020 11:59 am

Bill Belichick Subpoenaed in College Football Lawsuit

Ex-Patriots assistant coach Bret Bielema is engaged in a legal battle with the University of Arkansas

Bill Belichick mask
Bill Belichick during a Patriots-Raiders on September 27, 2020.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In the midst of a rocky NFL season for his team, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is being dragged into a legal battle between one of his former assistant coaches and the University of Arkansas, according to The Athletic.

Bret Bielema, who worked under Belichick in 2018 and 2019 after he was fired from his head coaching position at Arkansas, is engaged in litigation with the fundraising arm of the school, The Razorback Foundation.

Bielema received a nearly $12 million buyout when he was fired by Arkansas and, under the terms of the agreement, was obligated to find employment that paid a set amount that would offset the amount of the payment.

But since the job Bielema took under Belichick only paid $125,000 annually, the buyout amount was not reduced because his pay was less than the minimum that was agreed upon in the contract.

Now, The Razorback Foundation has subpoenaed Belichick and is seeking documents that would show Bielema and his agent Neil Cornrich (who also represents Belichick) intentionally got the former Arkansas coach hired for a small sum.

“The Foundation expressly pleaded that helping the Patriots hire Bielema for a low salary benefitted both of 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.”

On the football field, Belichick’s Patriots are 2-5 and have an uphill battle to get to .500, let alone make the playoffs.

New England will next take the field against the winless New York Jets on Monday Night Football in Week 9. If the Patriots lose to the Jets and fall to 2-6, Belichick may be facing a much worse fate than a subpoena.