Tennessee announced on Monday that assistant strength and conditioning coach AJ Artis had officially been promoted to lead the Vols’ strength and conditioning program in football. That new title comes with a hefty raise for the young coach.
Artis was previously making less than $100K annually as an assistant strength coach, earning $80,785 last year. But with his promotion to Director of Sports Performance, Artis will be making more than double what he earned last year.
The new deal for Artis is for two years and gives him an annual salary of $200,000, according to details obtained by GoVols247. His contract runs through May 14, 2022 and has a similar bonus structure to Tennessee’s on-field assistant coaches. If Tennessee fires Artis before his contract expires, UT would owe him all the remaining salary still on his contract. Should Artis leave UT before his contract is up, he would owe Tennessee 33 percent of the remaining salary on his contract if he left before May 14, 2021. If he left after that date, he would owe just $25,000.
Artis will be making considerably less than his predecessor, Craig Fitzgerald. Before leaving Tennessee to join the New York Giants in the NFL, Fitzgerald was the third-highest-paid strength coach in all of college football with a salary of $625,000 in 2019.
While Artis’ salary is significantly smaller, he has the respect and trust of Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. And Artis served under Fitzgerald the last two years at UT, so he gives Tennessee’s players some stability in the program.
“A.J. understands the standard we expect in this role and will continue to push our strength and conditioning efforts to the forefront of college football,” Pruitt said in a statement on Monday. “Since he first joined our staff in 2018, he has helped instill physical and mental toughness in our program through his contagious energy, hard work, and innovation. Our players have tremendous respect for him, and I have no doubt they will continue to develop under his mentorship.”
The 26-year-old coach spent two seasons at Duke working as assistant director of strength and conditioning prior to arriving in Knoxville in 2018. At Duke, he primarily trained the football and field hockey programs. He also worked with several other varsity sports. He was also a grad assistant at Appalachian State.