Fortner hired to lead women's basketball

Auburn interim President Ed Richardson announced April 22 that Nell Fortner has been named head women's basketball coach. Fortner, who served as the head coach for the 2000 United States gold medal women's basketball team, becomes the fifth coach in Auburn women's basketball history.

Nell Fortner"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to coach at Auburn," said Fortner. "I thank the Auburn family for entrusting me with their program. Joe (Ciampi) had a tremendous career at Auburn and I am honored to follow in his footsteps. I can't wait to get started."

Fortner was named head coach of the U.S. Women's National Team Program on April 1, 1997 and spent the next three years traveling the globe, coaching 10 different U.S. squads to a 93-14 (.869) overall record. From gold at the 1998 World Championships to gold in the 2000 Olympics, Fortner lead the U.S. Women's National Program to a 101-14 three-year record, the most wins of any coach in Women's USA Basketball history.

"Auburn's selection of Nell Fortner to lead our women's basketball program indicates the University's ongoing commitment to both winning basketball and excellence in the classroom," said Richardson. "Coach Fortner has compiled an impressive record at both the collegiate and Olympic levels. She has a thorough understanding of the game and the unique needs of student athletes. On behalf of all of our fans, I am pleased to welcome her to Auburn."

As head coach at Purdue in 1997, Fortner led the Boilermakers to a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a team that returned just four players. Fortner guided Purdue to a 12-4 conference mark and 17-11 overall record and a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. She was named National Coach of the Year by Basketball Times and the Big 10 Coach of the Year.

Fortner spent the last three seasons as the head coach and general manager of the WNBA's Indiana Fever where she compiled a 42-56 record, leading the team to an appearance in the 2002 WNBA Eastern Conference playoffs.

Since 2001, Fortner has also served as an ESPN studio analyst during the winter season and through each of the last four NCAA Tournaments.

"We're pleased to welcome Nell Fortner to the Auburn family," said Hal Baird, Athletic Assistant to the President. "She brings outstanding credentials with her professional, Olympic and collegiate coaching experience. We believe she will be a great addition to our department, University and community."

Beginning in the summer of 1995, Fortner served as an assistant for two seasons to 1996 Olympic coach Tara VanDerveer. During that span, Team USA posted a 52-0 run that culminated with a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

From 1991-95, Fortner was an assistant at Louisiana Tech staff under Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore. During Fortner's tenure, Louisiana Tech posted a record of 123-37 and made five consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the National Championship game in 1994.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Texas, Fortner began her coaching career as the girls basketball coach at Killeen High School in Texas. In 1987, Fortner served as a graduate assistant at Stephen F. Austin while she completed a master's degree in education. As an assistant coach from 1988-90 at SFA, she helped lead the Ladyjacks to an 87-12 record and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

A native of Jackson, Miss., Fortner played at the University of Texas from 1978-81 and helped guide the Longhorns to a 127-26 record during her four seasons. She led Texas to its first national ranking in women's basketball and a seventh-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament. She also played middle hitter for the Texas volleyball team and helped lead the Longhorns to the 1981 AIAW national championship.

Fortner was appointed to the University of Texas Women's Athletics Wall of Honor and the Texas Hall of Fame in November 2001.

Fortner replaces Joe Ciampi who retired after 25 seasons at the helm of the Auburn program.

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