Fulmer says baseball needs help, discusses Neyland Stadium renovations
After hiring a football coach, one of Phillip Fulmer's first acts as the athletic director was to ask every coach what they needed to win. Not what they wanted, but what they needed, as Fulmer noted there is a difference.
The first-time AD didn't need a response from baseball coach Tony Vitello to know that the Vols’ hardball facility, Lindsey Nelson Stadium, is not on par with the rest of the SEC.
“We have some work to do,” Fulmer said of baseball. “There's not any of our facilities except for baseball that's not up to par. Certainly we have needs and wants, but in our baseball situation that's something we are addressing.”
Fulmer will take a tour this summer to look at football facilities, as he looks to address the renovation plans for Neyland Stadium. On that trip, he will also look at various baseball venues in developing a plan to back up his expectations.
“I'm taking a tour this summer because we have some develop work with our south endzone and we are doing there. So I'm getting some ideas and while I'm out I'm looking at some baseball ideas. Some people are doing a $50 million stadium here. We are not going to do that. Don't even go there. But we are going to do something that helps our baseball coach. I have pushed them all. What do you need to be in the SEC hunt. If you aren't winning it, why aren't you and how do we get there. So I have to back up what I say too. Our baseball coach needs some help with that facility.”
Last November at the University board meeting, a renovation play for Neyland Stadium for more than $300 million was approved — by a Board of Trustees group that no longer existed and pitched by an AD no longer in Knoxville in John Currie. Construction was scheduled for some work as early as this summer, but those things are now on hold. Fulmer said he has to be responsible fiscally with the project and wants to look into the needs and wants.
“Yea, I'm new to this. I want to make sure we are being responsible in what we are trying to do. We have a construction manager and an architect that's looking at our design and things. Where we are going to go remains to be seen. There are definitely needs there. Again needs that we have to address.”
FULMER IMPRESSED WITH VITELLO'S WORK
In terms of the play of the diamond Vols, Fulmer has been impressed with the first-year coach he inherited in Tony Vitello.
“One of the things that coach (Bill) Battle told me was that I would really enjoy the spring sports,” Fulmer said.
“I was a baseball player in high school. We won a state championship. I have really enjoyed the spring sports and the athletes and coaches, particularly Tony Vitello. He's so much fun. He's so intense. He's young and energetic and learning as he goes in some ways. He loves to recruit. If we some how some way figure out a way to get a couple of games this weekend we have a chance to go to the tournament. With that group of kids as young as they are would be dynamic.”