YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – YSU women’s basketball head coach John Barnes is taking a leave of absence from the team to focus on personal family matters.

“This is home for our student-athletes,” said YSU Director of Athletics Ron Strollo. “The news yesterday, I’m sure, was shocking to them. But as the day moves on, they see the support structure, whether it’s Coach Nicolais and his staff. They’re going to see our faces at practice. We’re going to be with them when they travel. I think that consistency really, really helps.”

Associate head coach John Nicolais will serve as acting head coach until Barnes returns. Nicolais is entering his 11th season with the Penguins, arriving with John Barnes in 2013-14.

“We’ve talked to our 24 commitments and everything. They understand what’s going on,” Nicolais said. “It’s just a matter of trying to move forward, be ready to go for our scrimmages that are coming up and be the best version that we can be until coach gets back.”