2022-23 Tennessee Vols Athletics Year in Review

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2022-23 Tennessee Vols Athletics Year in Review


Tennessee in 2022-23 repeated as SEC All-Sports champion while becoming only the second school ever to sweep both the men’s and women’s all-sports standings.

Tennessee finished at an all-time best No. 6 in the final 2022-23 LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings—second among SEC schools. The 1,078.75 points scored were the most in school history, with 19 different sports contributing at least 25 points. It was Tennessee’s first top-10 Directors’ Cup finish since 2006-07, when UT landed at its previous-best No. 7.

UT also became the only school to win a New Year’s Six bowl game, advance both its men’s and women’s basketball teams to the Sweet Sixteen and send both its softball and baseball teams to the College World Series—in the same academic year.

Academically, the Spring 2023 semester saw Tennessee’s more than 550 student-athletes achieve a cumulative grade-point average of 3.38—its highest ever recorded. For the first time ever, all 16 sport programs earned a team GPA of at least a 3.0. This spring also marked the 21st consecutive semester in which the Vols and Lady Vols combined to post a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Eight teams enjoyed or matched their best spring semesters ever, while five programs (football, baseball, men’s track & field, women’s swimming & diving, and volleyball) tied or bested their highest GPA in any semester. For additional academic highlights, click HERE.

After Tennessee football dominated the Orange Bowl and earned a No. 6 year-end national ranking, a dozen other UT teams followed suit with national top-16 showings: men’s and women’s swimming & diving finished seventh and eighth at their respective NCAA Championships. Men’s and women’s basketball both advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. At the NCAA Track & Field Indoor Championships, the Lady Vols and Vols finished seventh and 11th, respectively. Women’s and men’s tennis each advanced to the NCAA Championships round of 16. The men’s golf team earned a year-end ranking of No. 12. Softball swept a pair of SEC titles while storming all the way to the Women’s College World Series. The Lady Vols track & field squad finished tied for 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and baseball rode an impressive late-season surge all the way to the Men’s College World Series in Omaha (the program’s second CWS appearance in three years).

When the football program earned the top spot in the first edition of the 2022 CFP rankings, it made Josh Heupel the sixth active head coach to guide his/her Tennessee program to a No. 1 national ranking. The others are baseball coach Tony Vitello (six polls, 2022), men’s tennis coach Chris Woodruff (ITA, 2022), men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes (AP & Coaches, 2019), men’s golf coach Brennan Webb (Golfweek, 2018) and softball coach Karen Weekly (NFCA & USA Softball, 2014, 2007).

During the 2022 calendar year, Tennessee’s ticketed men’s sports—football (7-0), men’s basketball (15-0) and baseball (38-5)—had a combined home record of 60-5 (.923), illustrating the tremendous homefield/homecourt advantage the Vols enjoy here on Rocky Top.

A total of 23 Tennessee games during the 2022-23 athletic year drew more than 1 million viewers. A total of 25 telecasts involving the Vols or Lady Vols exceeded 1 million viewers, including multiple episodes of ESPN College GameDay hosted on campus during the football season. ESPN College GameDay originated from campus four times during the athletic year, and those broadcasts drew nearly a combined 5.0 million viewers – 2.2 million (football vs. Alabama), 1.9 million (football vs. Florida), 543,000 (men’s basketball vs. Texas) and 320,000 (women’s basketball vs. UConn). Tennessee is the only school to have hosted ESPN College GameDay for football, men’s basketball AND women’s basketball all-time. It is also the only school to do it in the same athletic year.

Tennessee also made history as the only school in the country to have both a softball and women’s basketball game aired on ABC in the same year.

Director of Athletics/Vice Chancellor Danny White in May was selected as one of six national finalists for the Sports Business Journal Athletic Director of the Year Award.

The Big Orange excelled when it came to helping Vols and Lady Vols take the next steps in their careers athletically, as UT had student-athletes selected in professional leagues in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball. A combined 16 (number through second day of MLB draft) Vols and Lady Vols were drafted in 2023, including first rounders Chase Dollander (No. 9 / Colorado Rockies / MLB), Jordan Horston (No. 9 / Seattle Storm / WNBA), Darnell Wright (No. 10 / Chicago Bears / NFL) and Ashley Rogers (No. 3 / Smash It Sports Vipers / WPF). Tennessee was the only school in the country to produce top-10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, 2023 WNBA Draft and 2023 MLB Draft.

Football saw five individuals selected in the NFL Draft, with all of them going in the first three rounds, marking the second-most picks of any team during that span. Women’s basketball produced a first-round pick for the third year in a row under Kellie Harper. This feat was achieved once before in program history under Pat Summitt, making Tennessee the only women’s program to have two different coaches accomplish that feat. A total of eight Vols were selected in the MLB Draft—highlighted by Dollander being the highest-drafted pitcher straight out of college in program history. The eight were the second-most in a single draft in program history. And the Volunteers have now had 28 baseball players picked since the 2020 draft—the most of any school during that span. After men’s basketball one-and-done wing Julian Phillips went 35th overall to the Chicago Bulls in the 2023 NBA Draft, seven Vols have now heard their names called in the last five NBA Drafts—the most picks over a five-year span in program history. Tennessee’s seven picks over that span are tied for fourth-most among all schools nationwide.

Source: UT Sports
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