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Semrau rebuilt FSU women’s hoops into one of nation’s best programs

Sue Semrau took over a Florida State program that was at the basement of the ACC in the 1990s. She turned it into one that consistently performed among the best in the league and in the nation.

Semrau, the longest-tenured head coach in the ACC and the program’s all-time winningest coach, announced Monday that she is retiring as FSU’s coach.  The Associated Press, WBCA and ESPNW National Coach of the Year in 2015, Semrau guided the Seminoles to 16 NCAA Tournaments, Elite Eight appearances in 2010, 2015 and 2017, and was voted ACC Coach of the Year four times over her 24 seasons.

FSU has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine seasons.

“It’s been a joy and a privilege to be the head coach at Florida State University,” Semrau said in a statement. “Thank you to the amazing players and the talented and diligent members of our staff, you have given me millions of moments to cherish, and friendships for a lifetime. The countless supportive and hard-working administrators, faculty and staff have enriched my life.

“Our precious fans embrace us, fight with us and represent this great university with passion. The excellent camaraderie of the coaches I worked with at FSU shaped me. I still remember on my interview Coach (Bobby) Bowden sitting with me and telling me that we could do this and that he would help me. And he did. More than I could have imagined.

“I walk away eternally blessed by the life I lived while being the head coach of Florida State. I am Nole Blooded and am proud to be a Seminole forever.”

Semrau arrived at FSU in the summer of 1997 to a program that was struggling and had just one winning season since joining the ACC (its first in 1991-92). FSU won a total of 40 games in the five seasons before Semrau arrived (1992-1997, four under Marynell Meadors and one under Chris Gobrecht). Semrau’s first five years resulted in 60 wins, and the Seminoles won 20 or more games in all but one season from 2004-05 through 2019-20.

Semrau’s record at FSU was 470-271 and she led the Noles to 14 20-win seasons, including a string of eight straight from 2012-20. She was elected president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association in 2013 and served until 2015.

Over her last 10 years of coaching alone, FSU averaged nearly 25 wins per season and 10 players were selected in the WNBA draft with another 12 played professionally overseas. Under Semrau, 20 players have been drafted, signed or have played for a WNBA team since the league began in 1997.

Semrau took the 2020-21 season off to help her mother as she went through chemotherapy treatment. (Rosemary has made a full recovery.) Longtime assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff took over as interim for the year and helped guide the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament. Semrau returned in April 2021, leading the Seminoles through some early injuries and COVID protocols and back to the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles went 17-14 and lost on Thursday to Missouri State.

“It is hard to put into a few words just what Sue Semrau has meant to our athletics program, our university and the women she has inspired over her career,” FSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Alford said in a statement. “I know I speak for the FSU athletic directors who had the opportunity to work with her over her long career in saying that you couldn’t find a better representative of Seminole athletics or women’s basketball than Sue.  

“She instilled in her student-athletes the qualities that allowed them to be successful on the court, in the classroom and in life.  She was also a tremendous mentor not only to the assistant coaches who served under her but to both head and assistant coaches in our other sports.

“Sue has represented Florida State masterfully for the last 25 years and we will always be grateful.”

Alford and school officials could move quickly to fill Semrau’s job, with Wyckoff being the leading candidate.

FSU sports information contributed to this story