Nell Fortner returns to ESPN in 2012 as women’s college basketball analyst, and will primarily call SEC Network and ESPNU games. Formerly, she was an ESPN studio analyst from 2001-04.
Between ESPN stints, Fortner coached Auburn for eight seasons until her retirement following the 2011-12 season. She guided the Tigers to a 145-106 record, a Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 2009 and four postseason appearances, including two NCAA appearances. Fortner was named the 2009 SEC and WBCA Region III Coach of the Year.
Fortner’s eight seasons at Auburn marked her longest tenure at any position in her career. Prior to coming to Auburn, she served as an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin (1986-90) and Louisiana Tech (1990-95) before taking her first head coaching position at Purdue during the 1996-97 season. In her one season with the Boilermakers, she led the team to a co-Big Ten Championship and an NCAA Championship appearance.
Fortner was named to succeed Tara VanDerveer as the U.S. National Team head coach in April, 1997. She led the team to gold medals at the 1998 FIBA World Championship and 2000 Olympic Games, and was named the 2000 USA Basketball Coach of the Year. She led the team to a 101-14 record, the most wins of any coach in Women’s USA Basketball history.
Post Olympics, Fortner took over as head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, holding the position of head coach and general manager from 2001-03. In 2002 she took the upstart franchise to a .500 record for the first time and made the team’s first appearance in the WNBA Playoffs. Overall, Fortner put together a 42-56 record with the Fever.
Fortner earned a dual scholarship in basketball and volleyball to the University of Texas, where she played from 1978-81. 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, and was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame during the same month. In February 2013, she was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame
A 1982 graduate of Texas, Fortner earned a degree in physical education and a masters degree in education from Stephen F. Austin University. Born in Jackson, Miss., Fortner currently resides in Auburn, Ala.