LITTLE ROCK — The buyout for fired Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema's contract has been set at $15.4 million.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained a copy of the agreement between Bielema and the Razorback Foundation on Thursday under the state's open records law. The foundation's executive director said the agreement hasn't been finalized.
The buyout proposal matches an amount listed in Bielema's public employment contract with the university, which fired him on Nov. 24 after the team went 4-8. He had three years left on his contract.
The information was released after the Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge ruled that Bielema's contract with the Razorback Foundation had a high level of public interest.
"It seems beyond question that the public's interest in the record at issue is substantial," Rutledge said. "The subject matter has been intensely scrutinized by the media. And there is a very high level of public interest in documents bearing on the former employee's departure from the university — a level of interest that is understandable given his prominence and the importance of the matter in the local community."
Bielema's employment contract with the university included language saying the $15.4 million figure was to be plugged into a formula to determine the "total (buyout) payment," which the newspaper calculated would be nearly $6 million. But the copy of Bielema's agreement with the foundation doesn't mention a formula, and instead said "the amount specified ... shall be the total amount that will be paid."
The foundation is funded by donors supporting university athletics and is responsible for paying Bielema's severance.