Nell Fortner Biography
Auburn women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner was born in Jackson, Mississippi on March 3rd, 1959. She was an all-state basketball selection and Parade All-American at New Braunfels High School and played four years at the University of Texas from 1978-1981. Following her graduation, she began her career as coach of the Killeen High School women’s basketball team from 1983-1986 and, after serving as an assistant at Stephen Austin from 1986-1990 and Louisiana Tech from 1990-1995, earned her first head coaching job at Purdue University in 1996.
Though Fortner was only at Purdue for two years, it was the site of some of her greatest accomplishments. In her first season, Fortner led the lady Boilermakers to the Big Ten title and a second round loss in the NCAA tournament en route to coach of the year honors. However, despite her success, Fortner left Purdue after only one season when offered the opportunity to coach the USA Basketball team in preparation for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Her disciplined preparation led to the USA’s Gold Medal victory, which remains the high point of Fortner’s career.
Following her Team USA success, Fortner became the coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. She did not enjoy much success at the WNBA level, however, and resigned in 2003 to become the head coach of the Auburn Tigers. In her six seasons at Auburn, Fortner has compiled a 133-84 record, two NCAA appearances, and a highly memorable 2008-9 season in which the team went 30-4 and won the SEC title. This exceptional season, and Fortner’s 2008 NCAA coach of the year award, certainly won her a grace period, but last year’s steep decline to a 15-16 record (including 5-11 in the SEC and a 10th place finish) has clouded Fortner’s future somewhat.
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