Michelle Fortier has been named the interim women's basketball coach at Cal Poly Pomona, Director of Athletics Brian Swanson announced Monday.
Fortier, who spent last season as a Division I assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State University, is expected to arrive on the Cal Poly Pomona campus Wednesday. She replaces Kevin Kiernan, who resigned as the successor to longtime coach Paul Thomas last week.
Swanson said Cal Poly Pomona will conduct a national search at the end of the season.
“As a finalist during our search process, Michelle certainly distinguished herself as a leader and someone who is highly capable of leading our women's basketball program,” Swanson said. “I believe that she will do an excellent job. The teams Michelle has coached have been successful both academically and athletically and I feel she will bring those same results to Cal Poly Pomona.”
While at Southeast Missouri State, Fortier helped the team earn its first-ever invitation to the NCAA Division I Tournament and capture its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference title. Prior to that, she was the head coach at Kalamazoo College for 12 seasons. At Kalamazoo, her teams broke several school records, including most wins in a season (21) and earned several honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association for being one of the top academic teams in the nation.
She holds the Kalamazoo coaching marks for career wins (131) and career conference wins (67).
As a player, she was a starting point guard for four years at Western Michigan. She was the team Most Valuable Player as a junior, a team captain and among the career leaders in assists and steals.
“I'm excited about it,” Fortier said. “The girls deserve to have some leadership and I'm looking forward to coming in and getting them ready for the upcoming season. I felt good about my meetings with everyone at Cal Poly Pomona and I enjoyed meeting the team. I'm grateful for this opportunity.”
Fortier was named the interim coach after the sudden departure of Kiernan.
“After being on campus for three days and seeing the head women's coaching job up-close, Kevin decided that he was not fully able to commit to the position,” Swanson said. “During the process, I had addressed the team and told them that we need to be open to multiple candidates. Although we may believe a person is a good fit for us, the candidate may have a different personal opinion. In this case, that was what happened.”
Cal Poly Pomona, under the leadership of May and Thomas, has won a record-tying five NCAA Division II championships and won more NCAA Division II postseason games (48) than any other Division II program. May guided the Broncos to a 519-119 record and national titles in 1982, 85 and 86, while Thomas led the Broncos to a 235-108 record and national championships in 2001 and 02.