Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Longtime FIU women's basketball coach Cindy Russo is stepping down after a 36-year career to focus on her health, the school announced Thursday.
"For the first time in my life, I am putting myself first," Russo said in a statement that cited the stress of a long basketball season and the recent death of her mother as factors in her resignation.
Russo ranks 15th all-time among women's Division I coaches in wins with a 707-391 career record, including a 667-371 mark at FIU, which she once led to 22 consecutive winning seasons from 1981-2003.
Associate head coach Inge Nissen will likely take over as head coach.
"My health has been compromised for a long time now," Russo said. "It has been difficult to get up and move around. (The) basketball season is a long, stressful season that can suck you in with the demanding schedule. I just didn't feel like I had the physical and mental capacity to keep going.
"My mother's death exasperated everything, and it was a long ordeal with her. I was by her side for a long time, and now it's time to take care of myself. I just can't push myself like this anymore. The team will be fine. They play good basketball and they play hard, but we just can't finish. Someone just needs to step up and be a leader. I trust that Inge Nissen will do a great job and handle everything that comes along."
FIU made six appearances in the NCAA Tournament under Russo and won eight regular season conference titles.
The Golden Panthers are 3-13 this season, including 0-5 in Conference USA.