Bill Belichick under oath? Sports legal analyst shares preview of upcoming Bret Bielema trial
The long-awaited trial involving former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema against the Razorback Foundation may have a star witness.
There’s also a new date. Bielema, the new Illinois head football coach, and his former employer, the Razorback Foundation, has a new jury trial date, according to Michael McCann, a sports legal analyst at Sportico. Bielema v. Razorback Foundation has been rescheduled from June 1, 2021, to Jan. 10, 2022.
McCann noted that the development increases the chances of the case settling out of court — a likely desired result for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and other team officials who may be called to testify. McCann added that Bielema’s recent time with the Patriots has become central to the legal dispute and would be a focal point in a trial.
For background, Bielema maintains the Foundation owes him about $7 million on a $12 million buyout negotiated after Arkansas fired him in 2017. The buyout required Bielema to make best efforts to land another job (any job) and be paid a market-based salary in that position. Bielema insists he satisfied this duty. According to court filings, the Patriots initially hired Bielema as a draft consultant for $25,000. The team later elevated him to special assistant, with a salary of $100,000, and then promoted him to assistant coach, with a salary of $250,000.
The Foundation disagrees that Bielema met his duty and has countersued him. It insists Bielema conspired with his agent, Neil Cornrich, and Belichick, also a Cornrich client, to underpay Bielema.
The prospect of Belichick facing cross examination in a federal trial would certainly draw media interest, McCann reported.
“He has, at times, bristled at having to answer questions posed by journalists during press conferences. Questions constructed by seasoned litigators would likely prove more scrutinizing. The eight-time Super Bowl winning coach (six as Patriots head coach, two as the New York Giants defensive coordinator) has also been known to offer terse, non-responsive remarks, an approach that wouldn’t work well in a trial presided over by a judge and watched by jurors.”
Bret Bielema’s trial for his multimillion dollar lawsuit against the Razorback Foundation is pushed back to 2022. If the trial happens, Bill Belichick could be called to testify as a witness. How would that go? I discuss in a new @Sportico legal story: https://t.co/NUYEMznjmW
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) February 19, 2021