"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.”
Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said the athletic department understood Fortner’s decision.
"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 will finish the season as the coach. The team has two games left in the regular season against Ole Miss and Alabama. After this week, Fortner will coach the team in the SEC tournament.
Jacobs will work with Senior Associate Athletics Director Meredith Jenkins in order to find a new coach.
"I'll be heading up the search along with Meredith Jenkins, and we're going to find the best coach for this women's basketball team,” Jacobs said. “Someone that can continue to build on the social aspect, the spiritual aspect, the mental aspect and the athletic aspect that Nell has started here. We'll be efficient, and we'll be thorough, and we'll get it done as soon as we possibly can, but we're under no time constraints."
Fortner’s resignation is emotional for the team and her staff. Junior Najat Ouardad and junior Blanche Alverson said that although it is a hard time for the team, they are happy Fortner knows it is the right decision.
Prior to Auburn, Fortner was the coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever from 2001–03. Prior to the Fever, she was the coach of the U.S. Women's National team that won a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.