Sports

Georgia Tech hires Nell Fortner to replace MaChelle Joseph

FILE - In this June 28, 2016, file photo, former Auburn and Purdue coach Nell Fortner, left, speaks about Pat Summitt as LSU coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas looks on, in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia Tech has named former Auburn and Purdue coach Nell Fortner to replace MaChelle Joseph as coach.
FILE - In this June 28, 2016, file photo, former Auburn and Purdue coach Nell Fortner, left, speaks about Pat Summitt as LSU coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas looks on, in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia Tech has named former Auburn and Purdue coach Nell Fortner to replace MaChelle Joseph as coach. AP Photo

Georgia Tech hired former Auburn and Purdue coach Nell Fortner on Tuesday to replace MaChelle Joseph as coach.

Fortner, 60, also the former WNBA Indiana Fever coach, coached the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Fortner, who also has worked as a TV analyst for ESPN, has been out of coaching since resigning at Auburn, where she worked from 2004-12.

"I've coached for 28 years, at every level, and Georgia Tech was the perfect fit for me to get back in the college game," Fortner said in a statement released by the school. "Georgia Tech is one of those unique institutions that has both a premier academic reputation and a successful athletics program."

Joseph was fired on March 26 following 16 seasons at Georgia Tech. The school said the firing followed an independent investigation into alleged mistreatment of players and staff, as well as possible NCAA violations. Joseph's attorney says her client's firing was retaliation for her complaints about gender equity issues.

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said Fortner "is one of the most successful and respected coaches in women's basketball history."

"She's not only led teams to Olympic gold and major conference championships, but she has also proven to be an outstanding leader of young women who has embodied our mission of developing the young people who will change the world," Stansbury said in a statement released by the school.

Fortner's return to coaching was applauded by South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who played for the coach on the 2000 Olympic team.

"Having played for and coached against Nell, she brings positivity, energy and experience at the highest level that her student-athletes will enjoy and embrace," Staley said. "The entire basketball community loves having Nell back on the sideline."

Florida associate athletic director Jay Jacobs, who was Auburn's AD for Fortner's eight seasons at the school, said the coach is "a true ambassador for women's basketball."

"Nell Fortner is an outstanding person and coach with character, integrity and a commitment to excellence in everything she does," Jacobs said.

Fortner has a 162-117 college record at Purdue (1996-97) and Auburn. Her 2009 Auburn team won the Southeastern Conference championship.

She served as the Fever's first head coach and general manager from 2000-03 and led the team to its first playoff appearance in 2002.

Fortner, from Jackson, Mississippi, played basketball and volleyball at Texas.

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