Tennessee Hires Arkansas Recruiting Coordinator Tony Vitello As Coach
Tennessee on Wednesday hired Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tony Vitello as its new head coach.
Vitello, 38, replaces Dave Serrano, who resigned May 17 after going 157-163 in six seasons.
The school in its news release announcing the hire noted that Vitello agreed to a five-year contract with an average base salary of $493,000. That is a raise on Serrano's salary as he was given a one-year extension at $450,000 in 2016 by then-athletic director Dave Hart.
“We are thrilled to bring Coach Vitello’s passion for baseball, relationship building and student-athlete development into the Tennessee athletics family,” Tennessee athletic director John Currie said in a school release. “Proven experience evaluating and recruiting at the highest level and in the grind of the SEC was an absolute prerequisite, and Coach Vitello checks all the boxes. He has a track record of helping to build healthy and competitive programs—from those earliest relationships formed during the recruiting process through the development of young men into major league ballplayers. Coach Vitello has been to a dozen NCAA tournaments, and he’s been part of a staff that led a team to Omaha. He knows firsthand what it takes to win in the Southeastern Conference, and he has triumphed in recruiting battles for elite prospects in our SEC footprint and other talent-rich areas across the country."
Vitello spent the past four seasons as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas, gaining a reputation as one of the game's best recruiters. The Razorbacks had the 12th-best class in 2016.
Vitello previously coached at Texas Christian and Missouri, his alma mater. Among the players he has coached are Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Finnegan, Ian Kinsler and Max Scherzer. Vitello has also had the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches in the country, working under Dave Van Horn at Arkansas, Jim Schlossnagle at TCU and Tim Jamieson at Missouri.
“This is as good of an opportunity as there is in the country,” Vitello said in a statement. “I consider myself incredibly blessed to be a part of the athletic department at the University of Tennessee. It’s the ultimate combination of an elite conference, a state school with great in-state players, a phenomenal city and outstanding tradition that exists not just with baseball, but across all sports"
Vitello's hire continues a trend of Southeastern Conference schools hiring assistant coaches from the conference to fill head coaching vacancies. Five of the last six coaches hired in the conference were previously recruiting coordinators at other SEC schools. Missouri's hire of Steve Bieser from Southeast Missouri State last year is the lone exception.
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|2017 COACHING CHANGES|
|Alabama||Greg Goff||Brad Bohannon|
|Cincinnati||Ty Neal||Scott Googins|
|Incarnate Word||Danny Heep|
|La Salle||Mike Lake|
|Massachusetts||Mike Stone||Matt Reynolds|
|North Florida||Smoke Laval||Tim Parenton|
|Santa Clara||Dan O'Brien|
|South Carolina||Chad Holbrook|
|Stanford||Mark Marquess (retiring after season)|
|Tennessee||Dave Serrano||Tony Vitello|
|Texas-Rio Grande Valley||Manny Mantrana|
|Virginia Tech||Patrick Mason|