by Larry LeoSeptember 4, 2020
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Bret Bielema is being countersued by the Arkansas booster's club, the Razorback Foundation, claiming Bill Belichick's agent kept salary low when he was hired with the Patriots. Per Sportico...
quote:But seriously, why would Belichick or the Patriots even do this...
The foundation on Thursday countersued Bielema for fraud and added his agent, Neil Cornrich, as a defendant.
Cornrich also represents New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick—a central figure in the foundation’s theory of liability—as well as other prominent coaches in the NFL and college football.
Sportico has obtained the foundation’s countersuit, which was filed in an Arkansas federal court and responds to Bielema’s $7 million lawsuit.
The foundation insists that “Cornrich used his connection with Bill Belichick and the Patriots to negotiate a [low] salary for Bielema.” This move, the Foundation maintains, “benefitted the Patriots, and, by extension, [Cornrich’s] other client, Bill Belichick, to the detriment of the Foundation.”
The foundation’s theory relates to the buyout agreement it signed after Bielema’s firing in 2017. Per the agreement, the foundation pledged to pay Bielema $12 million over the course of several years. However, due to a mitigation clause, Bielema … had to use “best efforts” to land another job and to then negotiate a maximum salary for that new job. … Income earned by Bielema in a new job would offset the amount owed by the foundation. …
The foundation asserts that Cornrich conspired with Bielema to orchestrate a “scheme” that worked to the Patriots’ advantage. As the Foundation sees it, the Patriots hired Bielema for a salary “that was purposefully less than the trigger amount” for the offset.
In 2018, the Patriots hired Bielema first as a draft consultant for $25,000 and then as special assistant to Belichick, a position for which he earned $100,000. A year later the Patriots promoted Bielema to assistant coach and paid him an annual salary of $250,000. These salary figures, the foundation maintains, were below market.
First, it’s unclear why Belichick and the Patriots would participate in a supposed scheme over what are comparatively small dollars. The Patriots are worth $4.97 billion and are owned by Robert Kraft, whose net worth is estimated at $6.6 billion. It seems unlikely that Bielema’s salary as a low-level coach would have meaningfully impacted the team–or, arguably, that the team would go to the trouble of manipulating Bielema’s pay so that the foundation would owe slightly more money. …
[A]s noted in previous court filings, Bielema pursued other–and higher-paying–coaching positions but struck out each time. If Cornrich, Bielema and Belichick had conspired along the lines suggested by the foundation, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Bielema to actively pursue those jobs.
Filed Under: Arkansas Sports
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