The University of Tennessee went with an all-out approach to sign and keep nine head coaches in Knoxville for the significant future, headlined by baseball coach Tony Vitello.
UT athletic director Danny White announced he had signed Vitello to an extension through 2026 with a pay raise from $400,000 per year to $1.5 million per year. White also announced the extensions of both basketball coaches, locking Rick Barnes and Kellie Harper in through the 2025-26 season.
"First, I'd like to acknowledge the fact that I inherited a very impressive roster of head coaches when I arrived at Tennessee back in January," White said in a release. "…Extending contracts for successful coaches is one indicator of a healthy athletics program, and we plan on continuing to be aggressive with extensions and rewarding success moving forward.
"I am excited to work with these talented leaders to ensure that our programs continue building toward our bold, ambitious future. We want to support and maintain high graduation rates and championship aspirations—conference and national—across all of our sports.”
Vitello’s extension includes a clause that allocates a minimum salary pool to UT's assistant coaches and support staff of $900,000 annually. Vitello is responsible for allocating funds from the pool with White's approval.
Should Vitello leave Knoxville for another job, his buyout is $1 million through June 2023, dropping to $750,000 through June 2024 and $250,000 through June 2025. There is no buyout in the final year of the contract.
The deal is a win-win for both sides following the Vols’ successful 2021 season that included the school’s fifth College World Series appearance – and first since 2005 – the program’s third-ever 50-win season, and UT’s first Regional and Super Regional wins in 16 years.
Tennessee won the SEC East for the first time since 1997 and swept both its Regional and Super Regional to get to the College World Series. With the groundwork laid this season, there is certainly reason for optimism about the future of Tennessee baseball moving forward.
Barnes had his contract extended by two years after leading the men's basketball team to another NCAA tournament appearance this year. He has another top-five recruiting class for the upcoming season as well.
Harper received a two-year extension after guiding the Lady Vols to the second round of the NCAA tournament this past season, finishing with a No. 13 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
Tennessee also extended six other coaches on Tuesday including men’s golf coach Brennan Webb (through June 2026), softball coach Karen Weekly (through 2025), women’s tennis coach Alison Ojeda (through June 2026), rowing coach Lisa Glenn (through June 2024), men's/women's swimming & diving coach Matt Kredich (through 2025-26) and men’s tennis coach Chris Woodruff (through June 2026).