Semrau at peace with decision, looking forward to time with family

Sue Semrau is at peace with her decision. She wanted to spend more time with her family and couldn’t due to the demands on her time as a women’s basketball coach. 

“I really believed that coming back that I could do things a little differently to give me some more time to spend time with my family and do some other things,” Semrau said, referencing her return after a sabbatical to help her mom, Rosemary, who was underdoing cancer treatment. 

“But it wasn’t the case. And at 60 you look and you say, ‘There are other things.’ And when your family’s in Seattle, Washington. Long way. I got to see them two days this year. It’s not enough.”

Rosemary is doing “fantastic,” Semrau said on Thursday morning in an interview with local media following Brooke Wyckoff’s formal introduction as FSU’s women’s basketball coach.

Semrau always put her FSU family first since she took over in 1997 as coach. She turned the program around in the win column, from the basement to the top tier. And she did it with a goal of treating the person as the priority and then the student and athlete. While she has had an impact on hundreds of student-athletes, her coaching tree extends to head coaches like Cori Close (UCLA), Lance White (Pittsburgh) and Ganiyat Adeduntan (Colgate). 

And now the group includes Wyckoff, her assistant since 2011 and someone who was interim head coach in the 2020-21 season. Semrau made the decision to retire from coaching after the NCAA Tournament, but it also was one she had been evaluating — the balance of how much she could delegate to find time with family.

“It was at the end of the season,” Semrau said. “Brooke and Dave Plettl, my strength coach, both talked to me about how they could try to help make a difference so I could have that time. Adjusting to COVID and then adjusting to having a new staff, Brooke was the only one that was the holdover. It took so much time. And I didn’t even get to do what I wanted to do with the players. It felt like I had disconnected from that piece, and it would take a lot of time to rebuild that piece. And so I felt like toward the end of the year it was probably the right decision.”

Semrau said she talked to a few coaches who advised her not to go to watch the program’s games, and she admitted she likely won’t be in the seats at the Donald L. Tucker Center in 2022-23. But she remains close to a number of FSU’s programs and wants to watch sports like football, baseball and softball, among others.

And the decision to promote Wyckoff, whom Semrau had coached since her freshman year at FSU in 1997-98 and been a mentor, is one that she appreciates. Semrau is the godmother of Wyckoff’s daughter, Avery, and she also sees the program will continue its mission of competing with the ACC’s best.

“I love Florida State and I love these kids,” Semrau said. “And the fact that Brooke is getting to lead this charge. I just feel great about the direction that they’re going.”

It is evident in Semrau’s words that her mom’s treatment, as well as the shifting nature of college athletics, had an impact on her decision to step down as a coach. Semrau is a respected figure in women’s basketball and was a past president of the WBCA.

“The direction the professions going is very different than then when I started and not a bad way. Just different,” Semrau said. “… I think it’s for the young. All the things that are happening, I want to shut off my social media. And you can’t do that as a coach anymore. Every sport has had the transfer portal. I just think it’s being glorified right now. And I worry about.

“The NCAA governance isn’t there anymore. I mean, it’s going away. And so I know what people are doing already and not getting caught. I don’t want to compete with that. You compete with people that are doing things that you know are not right. And so I’d rather not be in that.”