John Currie has made his first major hire as Tennessee’s athletic director.
Tony Vitello was named the Vols’ new baseball coach in a release on Wednesday morning. Vitello has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas. Before that, he coached at Missouri, his alma mater, and TCU.
Vitello comes to UT as one of the nation’s top recruiters in his 14 years of coaching. The 38-year-old assembled the top signing class in the country in 2014, and was rated as the No. 2 recruiter in college baseball this fall by D1Baseball.com.
“We are thrilled to bring Coach Vitello’s passion for baseball, relationship building and student-athlete development into the Tennessee athletics family,” Currie said in a release on utsports.com. “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.”
Those major league ballplayers include stars like Andrew Benintendi, Ian Kinsler and Max Scherzer. Vitello has coached them all.
“This is as good of an opportunity as there is in the country,” Vitello said. “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.”
Former coach Dave Serrano, who was fired last month, came to UT as a long time head coach with a proven track record of success. For this hire, UT searched on the other end of the spectrum. Vitello was hired to bring in energy and new ideas to a end disappointing era of Tennessee baseball.
Vitello has coached at three different stops before coming to Tennessee. He was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for TCU from 2010 to 2013 before taking the same position at Arkansas. He also held the same position at Missouri from 2003-10.
Vitello has agreed to a five-year contract with an average base salary of $493,000.