ATLANTA - Auburn head women's basketball coach Nell Fortner has been named as a finalist for the 2009 Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced earlier this week. She is one of four finalists for the award, along with Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, Oklahoma's Sherri Coale and South Dakota State's Aaron Johnston.
The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its criteria on coaching performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largest independent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.
The Naismith Award is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the women's college basketball coach of the year. The winner will be announced in early April.
"Each of these coaches has proven that success is a result of hard work, dedication and passion for the game, and that transcends throughout their programs," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "We look forward to watching them compete throughout the tournament and seeing which candidate claims the Naismith award."
Fortner, the SEC Coach of the Year and Russell Athletics/WBCA Region III Coach of the Year, earns the honor after leading Auburn to a 30-3 record so far this season, the fourth-best record ever at Auburn. She coached the Tigers to its first Southeastern Conference title since 1989 and a runner-up finish at the SEC Tournament.
Auburn is currently a No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City Region of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Tigers defeated Lehigh, 85-49, in the first round and will face No. 7 seed Rutgers at 6 p.m. CT, Monday in the second round.