Tennessee extends athletic director Danny White’s contract

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman announced a contract extension for athletic director Danny White on Wednesday, a day after the Volunteers disclosed a big pay raise for football coach Josh Heupel.

Plowman said White agreed to an extension that starts at $2.2 million a year with an annual pay increase of 5%, up from his original $1.8 million salary. Plowman signed the updated contract on Dec. 1.

“Danny White’s strong and innovative leadership of our athletics department has created a championship culture and excellence across all sports in record time,” Plowman said of the athletic director hired in January 2021.

Since White took over, Tennessee has won six Southeastern Conference team championships in women’s soccer, women’s swimming & diving, men’s basketball and baseball. The Vols won their first SEC men’s basketball tournament since 1979 in March.

Tennessee football finished No. 6 in both the AP Top 25 and CFP rankings with an 11-2 record that was its best since 2001. Baseball and men’s tennis earned No. 1 rankings in 2022, with baseball earning the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Men’s basketball finished No. 5.

White said he’s fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with university leadership and fan support.

“We’re just getting started on Rocky Top,” White said. “I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

Tennessee set a single-season record by selling 17,297 new season tickets for football in 2022, with more than 7,500 new season tickets sold for the 2023 season since September. Fundraising also is coming off a record year for 2021-22 for total money, cash receipts and total donors.

White announced in December that Tennessee had commitments of $361 million toward a campaign of raising $500 million by summer 2026.

Tennessee gives Josh Heupel big pay raise to $9 million

Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee gave coach Josh Heupel a big raise that puts him among the highest-paid coaches in college football after he led the Volunteers to their best season in more than 20 years.

Heupel will make $9 million per year through the 2028 season under the contract extension announced by the school and signed Jan. 19. That’s an increase from the $5 million extension signed last July that pushed his deal through 2027.

Athletic director Danny White said Heupel’s results speak for themselves with an 18-8 record, including 11-2 last season, capped by a win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl. White said Heupel and his staff have energized the program and fans with his aggressive style of football.

“We just needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to reignite the spark,” White said of program that dealt with what he called a brief period of dormancy. “It’s been fun to crash the party, but as Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph, the best is yet to come.”

The Vols have beaten seven Top 25 teams since Heupel was hired in January 2021, which ranks third nationally among FBS head coaches in that span. Tennessee went 3-7 in 2020 before Heupel was hired to replace Jeremy Pruitt.

Tennessee finished Heupel’s second season ranked sixth by The Associated Press college football poll, the Vols’ highest finish since 2001.

The pay increase features a $225,000 base salary with $8.725 million in supplemental pay.

Heupel’s bonus if he wins a national championship was doubled from $500,000 to $1 million. He now is among at least 10 head football coaches at public schools making at least $9 million.

Tennessee promotes Joey Halzle to offensive coordinator

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Halzle has been promoted from quarterbacks coach to the Volunteers’ new offensive coordinator, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel announced.

Halzle will continue coaching quarterbacks while replacing Alex Golesh, who was hired in early December as the new coach at South Florida. Heupel said Halzle has been instrumental in the Vols’ record-setting offensive success over their first two seasons, and he’s known Halzle for more than 15 years.

“He has complete knowledge of our aggressive offensive identity and principles,” Heupel said in a statement. “Having played and coached at this level, he understands how to connect with players and will continue to make a significant impact in recruiting.”

Halzle coached quarterbacks the past two seasons, when Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton combined for 70 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Tennessee set 13 team offensive records in going 11-2 for the program’s first 11-win season since 2001 and capped the season with a 31-14 win over No. 7 Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

New records included 599 total points, 46.1 points averaged per game, 6,832 yards of total offense and 525.5 yards offense per game. The Vols also had a program-low three interceptions. Tennessee led the nation in scoring offense, total offense and team passing efficiency.

Halzle has worked with Heupel for 14 seasons, starting at Oklahoma where Halzle also played quarterback from 2006 to 2008.