Unpacking Tony Vitello

Unpacking Tony Vitello

Tony Vitello is suspended for Tennessee baseball‘s series against Dayton, UT announced Friday.

Here is what to know about the suspension for the sixth-year Vols coach:

Why Tony Vitello is suspended

Vitello is suspended for the Dayton series as UT, Vitello and the NCAA are addressing a violation within the program. Tennessee said the university and Vitello are “working collaboratively with the NCAA” to address the violation. Vitello’s suspension is a collaboration between Vitello and the UT athletics department. It is not an NCAA suspension.

“Coach Vitello has acknowledged his mistake and accepted full responsibility,” UT’s statement said.

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UT praised Vitello’s cooperation during the process.

Hitting coach Josh Elander will oversee No. 2 Tennessee in its three-game series against Dayton at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this weekend. UT said it will provide an update Monday.

Does Maui Ahuna’s situation tie into Tony Vitello’s suspension?

It is unclear if Vitello’s suspension is tied to the offseason transfer of Kansas shortstop Maui Ahuna, who has yet to receive clearance from the NCAA. The timing of the suspension and Ahuna’s ongoing wait coincide.

Ahuna and UT have a final hurdle to clear for the transfer shortstop to receive clearance from NCAA compliance, Vitello said Tuesday. Ahuna batted .396 with eight homers and 48 RBIs last season before transferring to UT in June. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound shortstop had 16 doubles and four triples.

The All-Big 12 selection has not played in UT’s first five games. Tennessee announced Ahuna was awaiting eligibility clearance before its season opener against Arizona on Feb. 17.

UT self-reported a June violation in Ahuna’s recruitment by approving a flight for a recruiting visit to campus before receiving his transcript from Kansas, according to a university document obtained by Knox News in July 2022 via a public records request. It was a Level III violation. Level III violations are common and routinely reported by athletics departments at every school. They often result in minor penalties, as was the case in these instances for UT. They do not typically result in suspensions for coaches.

Ahuna was not named in the university document, but Knox News learned he was the recruit referenced.

Tony Vitello’s previous suspensions

Vitello has been suspended twice previously in his career because of umpire-related incidents. It is Vitello’s third suspension in his six seasons as the UT coach. This suspension is not related to interaction with umpires.

Vitello was suspended for four games last season after chest-bumping umpire Jeffrey Macias during UT’s series against Alabama in the aftermath of pitcher Chase Dollander being hit by a line drive. Vitello received a two-game suspension in March 2018 during UT’s series against Kentucky stemming from an argument that started over a balk call.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.