Francis Marion University athletic director Murray Hartzler announced on Monday (May 11) the hiring of long-time NCAA Division I head coach and current Georgia State University assistant Jeri Porter as FMU’s new head coach for women’s basketball.
Porter has 15 years experience as a collegiate head coach – 11 at the NCAA Division I level and four at the Division II level – and has recorded 208 wins. She recently finished her first season as an assistant on the Panthers’ staff.
“We are excited to have Jeri join our staff, and eager to work with her as she takes over the reins of the women’s basketball program,” Hartzler said. “Her selection comes after a very exhaustive search that looked at many highly qualified candidates from across the country. In a pool of candidates that included individuals with head coaching experience at all levels of play, it became apparent that Jeri was the best fit for our program and the university.”
“I am extremely excited about this new opportunity,” Porter said. “I want to thank (FMU president) Dr. (Fred) Carter and Murray for the chance to take over what I considered one of the most storied Division II programs in the country.”
“I am very familiar with the program’s strong tradition, from Sylvia Hatchell to Pearl Moore, and Wes Moore to Heather Macy. In fact, former Patriot player Annette Alston (a member of Francis Marion’s 1986 national championship team) served as one of my assistant coaches during my stint at Radford University.
“I feel that my past experience – including on-court coaching, game management skills, and recruiting connections – will be an asset to the program and that I can return the Patriots to the national prominence the program once enjoyed.”
Porter’s first head coaching position was at Division II University of North Alabama, where she posted three winning marks in four seasons, including a 21-7 record in 1999-2000. That squad captured the Gulf South Conference East Division title, while Porter garnered conference Coach of the Year recognition.
She was named the head coach at Radford in 2002 and led the Highlanders to 93 wins in six seasons, including a pair of 20-win campaigns and two second-place finishes in the Big South Conference. Her 2007-08 squad was 23-12 and earned a WNIT invitation.
In 2008, she accepted the head coaching position at George Mason University, where she remained until 2013. Porter increased the Patriots’ win total over her first four seasons (from four to 15 wins). During her time in Fairfax, she also created and directed the Jeri Porter Girls’ Basketball Camps. Her final two squads posted a cumulative team grade point average of 3.09.
Porter is a 1991 graduate of Liberty University, where she earned a B.S. degree in psychology. She garnered first-team All-Big South Conference honors as a senior and was twice named her squad’s most valuable player. She was inducted into the university’s Lady Flames Hall of Fame in 1998.
She began her coaching career at her alma mater serving as an assistant coach for six seasons, during which time the Lady Flames won two conference tournament championships and advanced to the 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments.
She married Michael Porter of Manassas, Va., in 1997 and the couple has a son (EJ, age 15) and a daughter (Jada, 6).
Porter replaces Jay Sparks, who coached the Patriots for the 2014-15 campaign, but resigned last month citing family reasons. Porter becomes the 13th head coach in the storied history of the Francis Marion program.
The Francis Marion program has an all-time record of 811-427 in 42 seasons and ranks 11th among all NCAA Division II institutions in total wins. The Patriots have captured two national championships, the 1982 AIAW Division II title and the 1986 NAIA title, and also advanced to the 1998 NCAA Division II Final Four. The program made five straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances between 1997 and 2001, and four consecutive appearances between 2008 and 2011.
Francis Marion loses only one senior from this past season’s 8-20 squad that at times played three or four freshmen on the court at the same time. Eight of the team’s losses were by six points or less, and freshmen accounted for 56 percent of the team’s offense. The Patriots were 5-14 in Peach Belt Conference play, placing seventh in the East Division standings.FMU Head Coach Porter