New Coach To Meet With Auburn Basketball Fans

Auburn, Ala.--Nell Fortner will make her first public appearance as Auburn's new women's basketball coach on Wednesday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

The event, which will be held from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. at the coliseum's scholarship room, will give Auburn fans a chance to meet the former head coach of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team. Fortner is replacing Joe Ciampi as head coach of the program that he directed the past 25 seasons.

Beginning with the 2004-2005 season, Auburn will be selling assigned seats for women's basketball games. At the "Meet and Greet" affair on Wednesday fans can reserve a particular seat for the upcoming season. Individual season tickets will cost $50 for the courtside blue seats, $40 for the brown seats and $30 for general admission seating, which is expected to be located behind each baseline.

Fortner was head coach in 1997 at Purdue after serving as an assistant at two highly regarded women's programs where she coached for Gary Blair at Stephen F. Austin and Leon Barmore at Louisiana Tech. She led the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal and one of the players she coached on that team was Auburn graduate Ruthie Bolton-Holyfield. In her only previous head coaching job in college at Purdue, she was 17-11, including a 12-4 mark in the Big 10 as the Boilermakers tied for the conference title.

Fortner coached for three years and held the dual role as general manager of the WNBA's Indiana Fever prior to coming to Auburn. She has also worked for the past three seasons as a women's college basketball TV analyst for ESPN.

Fortner, a star player at the University of Texas, says coaching the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in Sydney was the highlight of her coaching career. "I don't know if it gets any better than that," she says. However, she adds, "At Auburn I am going to try to top it off with a national championship."

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