Tennessee's football coaching salary commitment increasing under Phillip Fulmer

Former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer, right, chats with former Tennessee wide receiver C.J. Fayton at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, in Knoxville, Tenn.

KNOXVILLE - The football coaching salary pool at Tennessee has received a substantial increase under new athletic director Phillip Fulmer and first-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Tennessee's 10 assistants will make a combined $5.63 million in 2018 after the nine assistants on last year's staff made a combined $4.64 million. An NCAA rule allowing football teams to hire a 10th on-field assistant coach took effect last month.

Pruitt's assistants were officially announced by the university on Thursday, though the ink on most of their contracts had been dry for weeks as they crisscrossed the nation on the Volunteers' behalf ahead of national signing day, which was Wednesday.

Tennessee's salary pool for assistant coaches in 2017 ranked 10th in the country and sixth in the Southeastern Conference. The $1 million bump for the 2018 staff would vault Tennessee to fourth in the nation and third in the SEC when compared to last year's numbers, which USA Today compiled in a database. USA Today has not released a database for 2018 salaries.

The highest-paid assistant under Pruitt will be offensive coordinator Tyson Helton, who is set to make $1.2 million, according to his contract. The contracts were obtained by the Times Free Press through an open records request.

Including Pruitt's $3.81 million salary, the annual cost for Tennessee's new staff will be $10.1 million. That figure also includes the $625,000 salary of strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald. In all of college football, only Iowa's Chris Doyle made more as a strength coach last year, according to USA Today.

The salaries of the Tennessee football staff totaled $9.1 million in 2017.

At a time when Tennessee owes Jones a $2.5 million annual buyout, the high salary pool for the new staff indicates Fulmer's desire to see the Vols return to the glory they enjoyed during his tenure as coach in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Tennessee has not played in an SEC championship game since 2007, Fulmer's next-to-last year as coach.

"I can tell you there are all kind of head coaches that are envious of this staff here at Tennessee," Pruitt said during a signing day celebration Wednesday night at the Tennessee Theatre.

The salaries of Tennessee's 2018 staff:

  • Head coach Jeremy Pruitt: $3.81 million

Assistant coaches

  • Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton: $1.2 million
  • Offensive line coach Will Friend: $805,000
  • Co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers Chris Rumph: $805,000
  • Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers Kevin Sherrer: $705,000
  • Running backs coach Robert Gillespie: $510,000
  • Wide receivers coach David Johnson: $505,000
  • Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker: $505,000
  • Special teams coordinator/safeties coach Charles Kelly: $330,000
  • Cornerbacks coach Terry Fair: $255,000
  • Tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer: $205,000

Assistant coach total: $5.63 million

  • Strength coach Craig Fitzgerald: $625,000

Total with Pruitt and Fitzgerald: $10.1 million

2017 coaching staff:

  • Head coach Butch Jones: $4.11 million

2017 assistant coaches:

  • Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop: $1.15 million
  • Offensive coordinator Larry Scott: $650,000
  • Running backs coach Robert Gillespie: $510,000
  • Defensive line coach Brady Hoke: $500,000
  • Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen: $500,000
  • Secondary coach/special teams coordinator Charlton Warren: $450,000
  • Quarterbacks coach Mike Canales: $300,000
  • Offensive line coach Walt Wells: $300,000
  • Wide receivers coach Kevin Beard: $280,000

Assistant coach total: $4.64 million

  • Strength coach Rock Gullickson: $375,000

Total with Jones and Gullickson: $9.1 million

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.

New money

How the Tennessee football staff’s salaries for this year and last year compare:2018› Individual salaries: Jeremy Pruitt, head coach — $3.81 million; Tyson Helton, offensive coordinator — $1.2 million; Will Friend, offensive line — $805,000; Chris Rumph, co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers — $805,000; Kevin Sherrer, defensive coordinator/inside linebackers — $705,000; Robert Gillespie, running backs — $510,000; David Johnson, wide receivers — $505,000; Tracy Rocker, defensive line — $505,000; Charles Kelly, special teams coordinator/safeties — $330,000; Terry Fair, cornerbacks — $255,000; Brian Niedermeyer, tight ends — $205,000.› Totals: Assistant coaches: $5.63 million; staff, including Pruitt and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald ($625,000): $10.1 million.2017› Individual salaries: Butch Jones, head coach — $4.11 million; Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator — $1.15 million; Larry Scott, offensive coordinator — $650,000; Robert Gillespie, running backs — $510,000; Brady Hoke, defensive line — $500,000; Tommy Thigpen, linebackers — $500,000; Charlton Warren, special teams coordinator/secondary — $450,000; Mike Canales, quarterbacks — $300,000; Walt Wells, offensive line — $300,000; Kevin Beard, wide receivers — $280,000.› Totals: Assistant coaches: $4.64 million; staff, including Jones and strength coach Rock Gullickson ($375,000): $9.1 million.