What is going on with Bret Bielema’s buyout?

The University of Arkansas has stopped paying out former football coach Bret Bielema’s buyout.

When Bret Bielema was fired after five seasons as football coach at Arkansas in 2017, and with time left on his contract, he was set to collect a buyout of around $11.9 million, paid out monthly through the end 2020. Yet another example of how lucrative it can be to be fired as a college coach.

As part of the buyout agreement, the $11.9 million is subject to offset based on what Bielema would make at another coaching job. So the school and the Razorback Foundation was assuming a good faith effort on Bielema’s part to actively find another coaching job, even if he sat out for a year.

Bielema joined the coaching staff of the New England Patriots after his dismissal from Arkansas, and this season he became defensive line coach. But it’s the time before being given that title that is now in dispute.

Via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

It has become fairly common knowledge that the Razorback Foundation, with the blessing of the University of Arkansas, decided former head coach Bret Bielema was not living up to his end of the contract.

His contract called for him to actively pursue another job.

Instead, Bielema became a volunteer for the New England Patriots for more than a year. Then it was announced he would become the defensive line coach for the Patriots in 2019.

From the time he was fired at Arkansas in November 2017 until Dec. 31, 2018, the Foundation paid him $320,833.33 every month, but nothing since.

Technically, since he was unlikely to land another coaching job of any substance for 2018, Arkansas would have been paying Bielema full payments for the first year as outlined anyway. But going to an NFL team as a volunteer assistant alters the equation.

Bielema did surface very early as a candidate at Kansas before David Beaty was fired and the job eventually went to Les Miles. But the Democrat Gazette seems to be calling out a conspiracy to keep Arkansas on the hook for Bielema’s full buyout:

His Arkansas contract, approved by former athletic director Jeff Long, even allowed Bielema to make $50,000 a year and it not count against his monthly payments from his buyout.

Maybe it isn’t so odd that Long, who became athletic director at Kansas, chose to hire Les Miles as his football coach instead of Bielema.

In any case, Arkansas has stopped paying Bielema’s buyout roughly one-third of the way through the payout. As expected, Bielema and his agent have taken the school to court.

Chad Morris replaced Bielema, and he’s 4-15 into his second season as Razorbacks’ head coach. If he wasn’t already on a warm seat, Arkansas saving roughly $8 million on Bielema (for now at least) makes Morris’ $10 million buyout more palatable.