For the second time since being hired by the New York Giants, Bret Bielema is in the news for something other than doing his job as the team’s outside linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant.
Bielema has reportedly filed a $7 million lawsuit against the Arkansas Razorback Foundation claiming that the foundation breached its contractual obligations by discontinuing payments on a $12 million buyout the sides agreed to when Bielema was fired as head football coach at Arkansas following the 2017 season.
Bielema, per Variety, has been paid $4.3 million but claims he is owed $7.7 million more. The lawsuit alleges payments ceased in January of 2019 and that the Foundation has demanded repayment of the $4.3 million.
The crux of the argument appears to be whether or not Bielema done enough to seek another job. Per Vareity, the critical language:
11. If Bielema is terminated by the University of Arkansas for its convenience and the Foundation is obligated to pay the amounts specified. . . Bielema agrees that those payments shall be subject to the following mitigation provisions. Bielema shall be required to do the following: Bielema shall have the duty to mitigate his damages by making reasonable efforts to gain re-employment. The parties understand and agree that if Bielema is successful in gaining such re-employment, or alternative employment of any kind the Foundation’s Guaranty Payment obligations shall be reduced by the amount of compensation the Coach earns from such employment (so long as such employment coincides with the Guaranty Payments). The Foundation’s right to reduce its obligations shall not include amounts Coach may earn from passive investments or interest not associated with new employment.
Has Bielema made “reasonable efforts to gain re-employment?” He worked with the New England Patriots the past two seasons and took the job with the Giants this season. He also interviewed for the Colorado head-coaching job after joining the Giants and was apparently considered for a vacancy at Michigan State. Per Variety, Bielema’s contract with the Giants allows him to leave the team for a Division I head-coaching opportunity.
I quite honestly don’t care one way or the other what happens with this lawsuit. That’s Bielema’s business. What I do wonder, though, is how Joe Judge feels about Bielema. When he was introduced as head coach, Judge said he would seek assistants who did not have any “alternative agendas” and had “nothing but the best interest in the players at hand and isn’t going to come to work every day and put their butt on the line for the guys who are going to work hard for them.”
Bielema may be a wonderful coach. It just seems pretty apparent that his agenda since being hired by the Giants has not always been focused on the Giants.