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White: Contract talks with Tony Vitello started months ago

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Danny White is a busy man. He just launched a massive fundraising campaign that aims to renovate several facilities around campus, and has a looming contract extension to iron out with baseball coach Tony Vitello. Of course, that comes after Tennessee finishes a potentially special run in the NCAA Tournament.

After that ends, Vitello is going to get paid. White’s job is to make sure that Tennessee is the one paying him over the next several seasons and hopefully beyond. White addressed the situation this week.

“Really excited about the success of our baseball program, what Tony’s doing here,” White told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously we’re having an unbelievable season and everybody is excited about this upcoming weekend. We started conversations, I did, with Tony several months ago. He knows that we value what he’s done here. As we do in every sport, we want to build a nationally elite baseball program. I think what we’re doing this season exceeds where we’ve been as a program, we all know that.”

Tennessee captured the SEC East crown and secured a No. 3 national seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. They made it out of the regional round unscathed, and now move on to face LSU this weekend, playing for a trip to the College World Series.

The discussions with Vitello go deeper than just money, however. It’s about an overall financial commitment to the program, which includes substantial renovations to Lindsey Nelson Stadium — which has proven to be quite the home field advantage this season.

“As much as I wish that every single person that wanted to get into the stadium this weekend could get in, I think it’s a very positive sign that we have that much interest in our program and folks that want to support the team,” White said. “We know that the stadium, we need to be bigger. How big? I don’t know. I think we need to explore that. Obviously we have been exploring it. But we need to continue to do that. And we need some different and better fan amenities. We need more premium experiences and things like that in Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Those conversations have been happening for several months since I got here this spring and will continue to happen as we move forward.”

White revealed plans to renovate Neyland Stadium this week, including field level club seating and a jumbotron on the north endzone side, along with a standing area ‘sports bar’ type area.

Plans for Lindsey Nelson aren’t that far along just yet, but the conversation is including Vitello. The 42 year old coach has a chance to mold Tennessee into a power over the next few years. The fan support is clearly there, and I’m guessing the financial support will soon follow.

More good news? The Texas A&M job is officially off the board.