Arkansas likely won’t have to pay the $15.4 million that has been reported as Bret Bielema’s buyout, if it wants to move on from its head coach.
Bielema’s Razorback teams have a tendency to start slow, and that is the case once again this season. Arkansas is 2-3, with its only two wins over Florida A&M and New Mexico State, and things don’t get easier.
Arkansas heads to Alabama for a date with the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
It had been believed that one obstacle to a Bielema ouster was a buyout of $15.4 million. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette looked into it, and it appears that the school would only have to pay just over a third of that if it wants to make a move after this season.
Based on an evaluation of the contract by legal counsel for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Bielema would be owed a little less than $5.9 million in buyout payments if dismissed at the end of the season.
The buyout owed to Bielema is decreasing by about $159,000 per month based on language and figures included in his original employment agreement and an amended contract that became effective Feb. 6, 2015, after the Razorbacks finished a 7-6 season by defeating Texas 31-7 in the Texas Bowl.
The $15.4 million was a starting point, but Bielema’s buyout is reduced as he spends more time in Fayetteville.
Bielema’s actual buyout is determined by a formula included within the language of his original deal, which was made effective Dec. 4, 2012, and signed the next August.
It uses the $15.4 million figure as a numerator and divides that by the total number of months (97) in the full term of his contract. That figure of $158,762.88, called the “monthly value of the total guaranty payment,” would then be multiplied by the remaining number of months on the contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2020.
Based on that equation, Arkansas would owe Bielema about $5.874 million to terminate his contract after the season concludes Nov. 24, plus a prorated amount for any partial months of employment.
$5.9 million is still a pretty hefty payout to dump a coach, but it is probably one that is manageable if athletic director Jeff Long thinks a change is in order. $15.4 million would have been a much tougher sell, even with Arkansas’s struggles.