Friday afternoon, before the 4:30 EST first pitch of Tennessee’s first game against Dayton, GoVols247 reported that Tony Vitello will be suspended for the weekend series, and that Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Josh Elander will handle the managerial duties against the Flyers.
247 reported that the suspension is of the self-imposed variety, as in Tennessee’s AD is getting ahead of whatever consequences may or may not be coming from the almightily-inept NCAA.
Here’s the official response from Tennessee on the situation:
“The University and Coach Vitello are working collaboratively with the NCAA to address a violation in the program. Coach Vitello will be suspended for this weekend’s series, with Josh Elander serving as acting head coach, and we will provide an update on Monday. Coach Vitello has acknowledged his mistake and accepted full responsibility. We appreciate his cooperation in the process and his dedication to do right by the student-athletes in the Tennessee baseball program. NCAA bylaws prohibit additional comment or details. The University will continue to emphasize—to all staff—the imperative of leading with honesty and integrity.”
Y’all know me — I’m no math whiz, but I see 2+2=4 here. There’s no doubt this has something to do with the lingering eligibility issue regarding Kansas transfer and second baseman Maui Ahuna.
Trey Wallace, of Clay Travis’ website renowned website Outkick (I’m only linking that because my J-school background won’t let me not. I do everything I can to avoid Travis and anything he’s associated with. I am in no way trying to drive any traffic to his site, but when something needs attribution, it needs attribution) has also come to the same conclusion — that Vitello’s punishment is linked to what’s gone from a timing issue on the purchase of a plane ticket to a full-on tampering allegation against Tennessee and Tony V.
Via “multiple coaches,” who spoke to Outkick, there’s a lot more tampering going on with the one-time transfer rule in effect. Ya think?
One of these anonymous coaches basically said that if staffs aren’t reaching out, they’re behind the 8-ball.
“If you aren’t having someone make that phone call, somebody else has most likely already called them twice,” says one Power-5 head coach. “It’s your loss, but the new transfer rules only made this easier to find players to fill key spots. I’m surprised a school would risk inviting the poorly-ran NCAA into their house by squealing on someone else.”
The last official update from Vitello on the Ahuna situation came after the 10-0, run-rule win against Alabama A&M on Wednesday:
“No, I don’t have a specific update,” Vitello told the media. “I know professionals from different entities are working on it, which makes me feel as good as I can and hopefully him as good as he can about it. People that are way more professional than me and a lot of people that are looking out for the kid’s sole interest. Hopefully, an update soon but I don’t have something specific now.”
In Knox News story from Tuesday, Vitello offered a little bit more ancillary information, while noting he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place about what details he’s allowed to divulge and what details he’s not.
“I don’t know what I can and can’t (say to media). I didn’t even ask,” Vitello said. “It really is out of my hands. Maybe (there will be) a clearer picture once things are done. I would like to hope there will be a resolution sooner than later. There’s a lot of backstories that go with it and a lot of drama and a lot of things that are left unsaid.”
With the Pruitt football stuff still somehow lingering, Tennessee doesn’t need anymore unnecessary NCAA eyes on it. It’s unfortunate that it sorta seems that activity like this is going on all the time, and it’s the Vols that get caught in the middle here.
Let’s hope the NCAA doesn’t drag this out. The coach will have served a three-game suspension, and the player in question will have missed eight games, assuming he misses the entire weekend series against Dayton. Let’s move on.