A Florida State women’s basketball program that was in disarray before Sue Semrau arrived became a model of consistency.
Semrau has opted to sit out the 2020-21 season to help spend time with her mother, who lives in Seattle and has ovarian cancer. FSU’s longest-tenured head coach, who has been on campus since 1997, is 453-257 in Tallahassee. She has won 20 or more games in 14 seasons, including eight straight.
“I’ve decided to step away from the day-to-day coaching through March 2021,” Semrau said in a letter that was released by FSU on Tuesday night. “I will also forfeit my salary so it can be used to offset COVID-19-related budget cuts. The decision allows me to support my family while providing much needed resources for Seminole Athletics.”
A four-time ACC coach of the year, Semrau is among the most respected coaches in her sport. She helped guide FSU to the NCAA Tournament in 14 of the last 15 seasons, not counting in March 2020 when the postseason was not held due to COVID-19. FSU went 24-8 and reached the ACC Tournament championship game before the sports world came to a halt.
The program enjoyed a loyal following at home games, a mix of students, families and retirees who followed the team from November through March.
Semrau was also the women’s basketball association president from 2013-15, helping shape the future of her sport.
She also had an interest in helping others. Semrau championed community service efforts, including Samaritan’s Feet, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing lives through shoe distributions around the world. Semrau and colleagues around the country coached barefoot in an effort to raise money. FSU has hosted 10 Samaritan’s Feet games at the Tucker Center.
The FSU team has also taken part in community service projects in Tallahassee, including area schools, and players helped build bunk beds for Sleep in Heavenly Peace before the 2019-20 season.
Brooke Wyckoff, who played at FSU and was on Semrau’s first team in 1997-98, takes over as head coach for the upcoming season.
Semrau requested that her forfeited salary will remain with the program to help offset COVID-19 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,” athletics director David Coburn said. “We are given a great responsibility in intercollegiate athletics to nurture the growth of our student-athletes not only in their athletic careers, but in their academic endeavors and personal life. Our coaches constantly talk to our student-athletes about properly aligning their personal priorities, and Sue is giving all Seminoles the ultimate example of what that means.”
STATEMENT FROM SUE SEMRAU
“Like many of you, I’ve been facing some unexpected challenges during this pandemic. One of the toughest for me has been supporting my mom who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer earlier this year. She and my dad live in Seattle and with the pandemic they have needed the full support of our family.
“For the past several months I’ve found it increasingly difficult to commute back and forth due to the tedious and ever-changing restrictions as a result of COVID-19. I’ve prayerfully wrestled with how I can meet my family’s needs and continue to lead our team. In these uncertain times, I haven’t found an answer that works for everyone, but I always preach that family comes first.
“For this reason, I’ve decided to step away from the day-to-day coaching through March 2021. I will also forfeit my salary so it can be used to offset COVID-19-related budget cuts. The decision allows me to support my family while providing much needed resources for Seminole Athletics. I am grateful to our Director of Athletics, David Coburn, for working with me and supporting this decision.
“This decision is definitely easier for me because I have great faith in my Associate Head Coach, Coach Brooke Wyckoff, to lead our team. Brooke is an outstanding coach. I sincerely don’t think our team will miss a beat. She has been a stellar assistant for 10 years, is an FSU alumna and truly understands the heartbeat of our program. I am confident in her and our staff. I am also confidence that you, our Seminole Family, will support her as you have supported me.
“I need you to trust my decision and support our team and staff like never before. You can be sure that I will be wearing my garnet and gold daily! I look forward to keeping up with you during the season, and returning to the court in the spring. Please remain resilient and take great care of yourself and your loved ones. We will remain Unconquered.”