NEW YORK (AP) — Florida State women's basketball coach Sue Semrau has always preached to her team that family comes first.
After trying to go back and forth between Seattle and Tallahassee, Florida, during the last couple of months to be with her 81-year-old mom, who has ovarian cancer, Semrau decided to take a leave of absence for the coming season to spend time with her family.
“I was starting to consider it in April and May. I was waiting for the COVID to get better and it could be different,” Semrau said during a call Thursday. “I realized with the players coming back I was needing to be present as a head coach. That's when the decision became more obvious to me.”
Semrau, who announced her decision Tuesday, said that because of quarantine rules she was losing a week each time she was changing coasts.
“You only have one mom and get this chance to spend this time," she said. "For years I've spent maybe 10 days all year at my parents. It will be great to spend a significant amount of time with them. The emotional side of going through this cancer will be just as tough as the physical. ... Every decision you make is you’re a person first, a student second and an athlete third. I need to put my money where my mouth is. I need to make a decision for my family.”
Semrau will be replaced at Florida State by longtime assistant Brooke Wyckoff, who was promoted to associate head coach in 2018.
“I feel like Coach Sue has been preparing me since I was 17 years old for this moment," said Wyckoff, who played under Semrau at Florida State. "I’ve seen from day one since I was 17 her ability to put the person first, make it a players' first program. I lived it and benefited from it and so excited and so blessed to be part of the process as a coach for the last 10 years. It means everything to me that she’s entrusting me with this.”
The 58-year-old Semrau has a 453-257 career record. Her teams twice won the ACC regular-season title and reached the NCAA Tournament regional finals three times, most recently in 2017. She said she will still be involved in recruiting.
As part of her leave agreement, Semrau requested — and FSU athletic director David Coburn agreed — that her forfeited salary will remain with the program to help offset pandemic-related budget cuts that will affect the entire athletic department.
“Sue Semrau is one of the finest coaches in the country, and we completely support the decision she has made,” Coburn said.
Semrau’s return is scheduled for April 2021, following the conclusion of the women’s NCAA Tournament.