Tennessee baseball coach Tony Vitello was suspended for this weekend’s series against Dayton, the program announced on Friday afternoon.
Tennessee did not get into specifics as to why, however it is allegedly due to tampering with transfer shortstop Maui Ahuna.
“The University and coach Vitello are working collaboratively with the NCAA to address a violation in the program,” the team said in a statement. “Coach Vitello will be suspended for weekend’s series, with Josh Elander serving as the acting head coach, and we will provide an update on Monday.
“Coach Vitello has acknowledged his mistake and accepted full responsibility.”
Statement from Tennessee Athletics: pic.twitter.com/iZnYKSq5PQ
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) February 24, 2023
It’s unclear what violation Vitello committed specifically.
Ahuna transferred to Tennessee from Kansas this past offseason, but has yet to be cleared to play — which is something the team learned just earlier this month. Vitello said on Tuesday night that he didn’t have a specific update on when Ahuna would be eligible to return, but that he was handling the situation “like a dang champ.”
Ahuna hit .396 and had 48 RBI and eight home runs last season while earning first team All-Big 12 honors with the Jayhawks.
“He has been really good about getting extra work in [the cages] and on the field because he knows he is not going to be burning a bunch of calories out there,” Vitello said of Ahuna, via 247 Sports. “He has been [Austen Jaslove’s] No. 1 fan. Next to him in warmups, if you guys are here in time, you see what he is doing there. Then he is just a fun-loving kid in general.”
No. 3 Tennessee entered Friday’s game with a 3-2 record. After the three-game series with Dayton, the Volunteers will host Charleston Southern for a pair of games next week before hosting Gonzaga in a three-game series next weekend.