Nell Fortner

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Nell Fortner
Nell Fortner.jpg
Current position
TitleHead coach
TeamGeorgia Tech
Biographical details
Born (1959-03-03) March 3, 1959 (age 60)
Jackson, Mississippi
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1983–1986Killeen HS
1986–1987Stephen F. Austin (GA)
1987–1990Stephen F. Austin (asst.)
1990–1995Louisiana Tech (asst.)
1995–1996USA Basketball (asst.)
1997–2000USA Basketball
2001–2003Indiana Fever
2019–presentGeorgia Tech
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1999–2003Indiana Fever (GM)
2001–2004ESPN (analyst)
2012–2019ESPN (analyst)
Head coaching record
Overall306–189 (.618)
Accomplishments and honors
Big Ten champion (1997)
SEC champion (2009)
Basketball Times National Coach of the Year (1997)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (1997)
USA Basketball Coach of the Year (2000)
University of Texas Women’s Athletics Wall of Honor (2001)
SEC Coach of the Year (2009)
WBCA Region III Coach of the Year (2009)
San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame (2013)

Nell Fortner (born March 3, 1959)[1] is the current women's college basketball coach at Georgia Tech. She is most well known for leading the 2000 Olympics team to a gold medal. She has received numerous awards including the 1997 National Coach of the Year, the 2000 USA Basketball Coach of the Year and the 2008 SEC Coach of the Year. In April 2018, she was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Fortner served as a TV analyst for ESPN from 2001-2004 before returning as the head women's basketball coach at Auburn University. In 2013, she returned to ESPN as a TV analyst.

Playing career[edit]

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Fortner is a graduate of New Braunfels High School where she was an all-state basketball selection and a Parade All-American. She won a dual scholarship in basketball and volleyball to the University of Texas, where she played from 1978-81. As a starter under coach Jody Conradt, the basketball team compiled a 127-26 record in her 4 seasons. She led Texas to its first national ranking in women’s basketball and a seventh-place finish at the AIAW national tournament. Her 1,466 career points are among the top scoring leaders in school history, and her 142 games played rank her fourth in Texas history. In addition to playing basketball for the Longhorns, she also played for the Texas volleyball team, where, as a middle hitter, she helped lead the Texas volleyball team to the 1981 AIAW National Championship.

While a freshman at UT, Fortner made her USA Basketball debut as a member of the 1978 U.S. Olympic Festival South team, winning a silver medal.

Fortner was appointed to the University of Texas Women’s Athletics Wall of Honor in November 2001.

Coaching career[edit]

Fortner has over two decades of experience coaching at the high school, college, pro and international levels. She began her coaching career in the 1983-84 season as the girls basketball coach at Killeen High School in Texas.

Stephen F. Austin[edit]

She turned to the college ranks as a graduate assistant under Gary Blair at Stephen F. Austin during the 1986-87 campaign while completing a master's degree in education. She stayed at SFA for three more seasons as an assistant coach, helping guide the Ladyjacks to a remarkable 87-12 (.879) record and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2007, Fortner was honored by Stephen F. Austin with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Louisiana Tech[edit]

Prior to the 1990-91 NCAA season, Fortner was hired by Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore at Louisiana Tech, where she spent five years as an assistant coach from 1990-1995. During her tenure at the school, the Lady Techsters compiled a 123-37 (.794) record and made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the national championship game in 1994.


When Lin Dunn was fired from Purdue University, Fortner was hired to replace her as head coach. In her first year, Fortner led a Purdue team that returned just four players to a Big Ten regular-season conference title in 1996-97, going 17-11 overall and 12-4 in conference play. The season ended in an overtime loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament to #2 ranked Old Dominion, the eventual runner-up.[2] Fortner's efforts earned her Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. She was also named the National Coach of the Year by the Basketball Times. Fortner left the Boilermakers after one season upon being appointed coach of the U.S. women's national team.

National team[edit]

Beginning in summer 1995, Fortner took a position with USA Basketball, serving as an assistant coach for one year under Tara VanDerveer. The 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's National Team posted an amazing 52-0 run that culminated with a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. On April 1, 1997, Fortner was named to succeed VanDerveer as the U.S. head coach.[3] She led the USA National Team to gold medals at the 1998 FIBA World Championship and 2000 Olympic Games.[4] Fortner was named the 2000 USA Basketball Coach of the Year. She spent the three years leading up to the Sydney Games traveling the globe, coaching 10 different USA Basketball squads to an impressive 93-14 (.869) overall record as a USA Basketball head coach. She then capped that with a gold medal and a perfect 8-0 record in Sydney, bringing her total USA Basketball head coaching record to 101-14 (.878)., the most wins of any coach in Women's USA Basketball history.[5]

Indiana Fever[edit]

On August 17, 1999, Fortner was named the first head coach and general manager of the expansion franchise Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association.[6] However, as she was already committed to her post as the coach of the United States Olympic Team, she continued coaching Team USA through the 2000 Olympic Games. Assistant coach Anne Donovan served as interim head coach during the 2000 season before Fortner joined the Fever for the 2001 campaign.[6] She lifted the upstart franchise during the 2002 season to a .500 record and a playoff win in the club’s first post-season appearance. She resigned following the 2003 season. During her time in the WNBA, Fortner compiled a 42-56 record.


On April 22, 2004, Nell Fortner was named the fifth head coach in Auburn Tigers women's basketball history.[3] [7] She replaced Joe Ciampi, who retired after his 25th season with a school-record 568 victories. Fortner was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the 2008-09 regular season, which saw her team start 20-0 before finishing 27-2 overall and 12-2 in the SEC to win the Southeastern Conference title.[8]

Head coaching record[edit]


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Purdue Boilermakers (Big Ten Conference) (1996–1997)
1996–97 Purdue 17–11 12–4 T–1st NCAA Second Round
Purdue: 17–11 (.607) 12–4 (.750)
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2004–2012)
2004–05 Auburn 16–13 6–8 T–6th
2005–06 Auburn 14–15 4–10 10th
2006–07 Auburn 21–13 6–8 9th WNIT Quarterfinals
2007–08 Auburn 20–12 7–7 6th NCAA First Round
2008–09 Auburn 30–4 12–2 1st NCAA Second Round
2009–10 Auburn 15–16 5–11 10th
2010–11 Auburn 16–16 8–8 T–5th WNIT Second Round
2011–12 Auburn 13–17 5–11 9th
Auburn: 145–106 (.578) 53–65 (.449)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2019–present)
2019–20 Georgia Tech 0–0 0–0
Georgia Tech: 0–0 (–) 0–0 (–)
Total: 162–117 (.581)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
IND 2001 32 10 22 .313 6th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
IND 2002 32 16 16 .500 4th in Eastern 3 1 2 .333 Lost in Conference Semifinals
IND 2003 34 16 18 .471 5th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
Career 98 42 56 .429 3 1 2 .333


Fortner led the United States women's national basketball team to a 101–14 record, the most wins of any coach in Women’s USA Basketball history.


  1. ^ "Women's Basketball Coaches Career". NCAA. Retrieved 25 Sep 2015.
  2. ^ "1996-97 Facts & Figures, Stats & Stories". 1997. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  3. ^ a b "Fortner hired to lead women's basketball". 2004-05-19.
  4. ^ "THIRTEENTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR WOMEN -- 1998". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Nothin' But Nell". Indianapolis Woman. 2001-06-01.
  6. ^ a b "Fever Franchise History". Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  7. ^ "Auburn hires Fortner as women's basketball coach". USA Today. 2004-04-22.
  8. ^ "SEC CHAMPS: Auburn, Nell Fortner celebrate women's basketball title in style". Birmingham News. 2009-03-01.

External links[edit]