KNOXVILLE – On the same morning that Tennessee baseball coach Tony Vitello was discussing the ramifications of his contract extension, the university announced a new deal for another coach.
Matt Kredich, who has been UT swimming’s head coach for 14 years, including the last seven as head of the combined men’s and women’s programs, has agreed to an extension through June of 2024. The term matches Vitello’s extension.
Kredich’s annual salary has been increased to $214,000 while his title was revised to Director of Swimming & Diving.
Beyond Vitello and Kredich being Tennessee coaches, the correlation here is that both moves amount to good, smart business. The experience of each coach and the circumstances involved might differ but not the underlying prudence.
If that doesn’t mean anything to you then you haven’t been paying attention or are relatively new to this program. Google UT football coaching search and behold the shock and horror involved.
In the midst of a press conference devoted solely to baseball on Tuesday, Vitello took a moment to step back and consider the broader UT coaching panorama.
“I think there’s a good chemistry right now between the whole athletic department, administration and all coaches,” he said.
Vitello’s extension was announced last week. He will be paid $580,000 next year and raised to $650,000 by the end of the extension. Vitello indicated that UT also has increased the salary pool for his assistants, which was an important part of the discussion when athletic director Phillip Fulmer began a contract conversation midway through the Vols’ season.
“The No. 1 priority from my standpoint became how do we take care of the assistant coaches and how do we make sure the whole staff stays together,” Vitello said, “and the administration, headed by Coach Fulmer, did what we needed to do.”
Vitello’s staff consists of venerable pitching coach Frank Anderson, assistant Josh Elander and volunteer assistant Ross Kivett. The fruits of their labor were 40 victories in their second season at Tennessee and an NCAA tournament berth, the program’s first in 14 years.
“The whole thought process behind building this coaching staff was recruiting,” Vitello said. “I felt like it was a staff that could stay together for a long time. Well they’ve done an awful good job and people know who they are. So people have tried to come in and get these guys. So (the extension) kind of got a dual effect in a major way for us. … This whole group is on board to do what we all came here to do.”
They now have a chance to build toward the continuity Kredich is achieving with swimming. The Lady Vols were eighth this season in the NCAA Championships, which marked the second consecutive season they finished in the top 10. The Vols, meanwhile, had a second consecutive 11th place finish.
“Matt has an innovative swimming mind and coaching style and is consistently challenging his staff and student-athletes,” Fulmer said in a university release. “Tennessee is very fortunate to have a director of swimming & diving of his caliber. We all have tremendous respect for the way he leads his program.”
* * *
Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri who covered University of Tennessee athletics for the Knoxville News Sentinel from 1988-2019. He can be reached at email@example.com