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Fortner stepping down

AUBURN - Nell Fortner, unable to recapture the magic of the 2009 Southeastern Conference championship season, has resigned effective at the end of this season.

Fortner is 143-105 overall in her eighth Auburn season, but she is only 51-65 in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers are 11-16 overall and 3-11 in the SEC this season with hom games remaining against Alabama on Thursday and Ole Miss on Sunday.

"I love Auburn and have absolutely loved my time here during the course of the last eight years," Fortner said. "I have dedicated the last 28 years to coaching basketball and feel it is time for me to pursue something different. This was not an easy decision, as I have contemplated this for several months, but I am looking forward to the change. I’m proud of where the Auburn program is and what we’ve accomplished.

"... I want to thank my staff and players - both former and current - along with the administration and entire Auburn family for their support during my time at Auburn. It has been eight of the best years of my life and I look forward to following and supporting the program in the future.”

Fortner was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and Basketball Times National Coach of the year after 2009 season. She also led the 2007 and 2011 teams to the WNIT.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said Fortner will be missed.

"We respect Nell’s desire to pursue other opportunities and appreciate everything that she’s done for Auburn,” Jacobs said. “Nell has been a tremendous ambassador for Auburn athletics, the university and our community, always willing to be a team player. She achieved success on the court and developed her players athletically, academically and socially.

"I have the utmost respect for Nell and want to thank her for her contributions to the women’s basketball program and the Auburn community during her eight years at Auburn."

Fortner's contract runs through the 2012-13 season.

In 2009, Fortner led Auburn to a 30-4 record and its first regular-season SEC championship in 20 years. The Tigers were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament but were blown out at No. 7 seed Rutgers in the second round. Fortner's 2008 team also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Fortner coached at Purdue for one season, in the WNBA and was an ESPN analyst.

Fortner and Jacobs will meet reporters later this afternoon.

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