The Bret Bielema/Arkansas buyout dispute now officially involves a lawsuit. Bielema has now filed a $7 million lawsuit against the Arkansas Razorback Foundation.

Bielema’s suit argues that the Foundation breached its contractual obligation to pay his buyout of roughly $12 million, an agreement signed in January 2018 after Bielema’s dismissal following the 2017 football season. The Foundation has not paid Bielema arguing he has willfully refused to mitigate the amount of money owed to him. Coaches such as Bielema are expected to make reasonable efforts to find another job with that salary deducted from the buyout payments.

After his time at Arkansas, Bielema has worked in the NFL. In July 2018, the New England Patriots hired Bielema as a consultant to head coach Bill Belichick. In 2019, Bielema became the Patriots’ defensive line coach. When the Foundation discovered Bielema was only reportedly making only $50,000 as an NFL defensive line coach, it opted to stop buyout payments in October of last year.

[Update with editor’s note: Bielema’s lawyers appear to be claiming a 2019 salary of more than $50,000]

As Bielema’s suit suggests, roughly $7 million of the $12 million buyout agreement has not been paid as a result of the stopped payments. In January, Bielema joined former Patriots assistant Joe Judge’s New York Giants staff as outside linebackers coach and senior assistant.

The Bielema lawsuit will certainly be followed closely by many major college athletic departments as the outcome could change how buyouts and mitigation are handled.