View Full Version : Skip Prosser dies at 56
07-26-2007, 04:58 PM
Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser died, multiple sources said Thursday. He was 56.
Prosser collapsed while jogging, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. He was taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, an athletic department official told the newspaper.
Prosser left Orlando, where the AAU national tournament is being held, this morning at 6 a.m. to return to Wake Forest for a basketball camp.
Mark Prosser, Skip Prosser's son and a Bucknell assistant coach, received a phone call at about 2:40 p.m. ET this afternoon while watching games at the Milkhouse in Orlando. He left the gym immediately.
Prosser took over at Wake Forest in 2001 after coaching at Xavier for seven seasons, including five straight NCAA Tournament bids. He coached for one season at Loyola (Md.) in 1993-94.
Prosser's career record was 291-146 (.666). He was the 2003 ACC coach of the year. Prosser was 126-68 in six seasons at Wake Forest.
Last season, Wake Forest was 15-16 and lost to Virginia Tech in the second round of the ACC Tournament. In 2006, the Demon Deacons lost in the first round of the NIT.
In 2005, Wake Forest was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but lost to West Virginia 111-105 in double overtime. It was Chris Paul's final game at Wake Forest.
The 2004 team reached the East Region semifinals, losing to St. Joseph's. The year before, Wake lost to Auburn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after winning the ACC regular-season title.
He was the only coach in NCAA Tournament history to lead three different schools to the tournament in his first season at the school.
Prosser is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two sons: Scott and Mark, both in their 20s.
07-26-2007, 05:36 PM
That is so sad. Having gone to an ACC school, I was always in tune with Wake Forest and what was going on there. What a loss. I feel for those players. :(
07-26-2007, 06:46 PM
I was about to post this myself, before running across this. Having watched NUMEROUS ACC Basketball games and living in the area, I have kept up with Wake Forest sports as well, especially basketball (even though UNC is my fav.). He really coached a good game, and is a tremendous loss to Wake Forest University. All my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, players, and colleagues in the college sports community.
07-26-2007, 10:12 PM
Our thoughts are with his family and team.
07-26-2007, 10:42 PM
As an ACC fan, I will miss seeing Skip on the court. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends
07-27-2007, 03:07 AM
As a lifelong Wake Forest fanatic, I am completely shocked and devastated by this. :crying: No joke folks, Skip Prosser was a true gem! What a combo of class and leadership he and Jim Grobe demonstrated as head coaches at this wonderful university.
Oh geez, I just can't believe it. :(
07-27-2007, 09:51 AM
Mel, you were the first person I thought of when I read this news. I know how much you love Demon Deacon athletics. Here's a :hug: from me!
07-27-2007, 11:50 AM
Living in Winston-Salem, the home of Wake Forest, I had the privilege of interacting with Skip Prosser a number of times. He was a great coach, but more than that he was tremendous person.
I am a pastor and Skip was always willing to speak to groups in our church, even 6 a.m. Men's gatherings. He was a man of deep faith and remarkable character.
His death leaves a void. My prayers are with his wife and sons as well as the Wake Forest family.
07-27-2007, 04:30 PM
My husband is stationed in Kuwait right now. Several college coaches go to different bases in the Middle East and coach basketball teams that then compete against each other. It's called Operation Hardwood. Skip was one of the coaches who went this year. My husband wasn't one of the players, but spent a lot of time with Skip because Skip spent a lot of time hanging out and socializing with the soldiers. They played poker several nights with a few other coaches. This was in the Spring and I remember my husband specifically telling me what a great person he was, how approachable and genuinely nice. A few of the coaches acted too famous to spend time with the soldiers, but the ones who really got to know the guys were greatly appreciated. Skip was one of those. His family is in my thoughts and prayers.
08-01-2007, 03:14 AM
This article pretty much says it all about what a great person Prosser was. Gosh, I am still in shock about this. RIP Skip! :(
Prosser honored for integrity at funeral
Friends and colleagues fondly remember Wake Forest coach
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Chris Paul wanted to make sure he made an immediate impact the first time he met Skip Prosser.
The star guard was a high school player at an AAU tournament several years ago in Florida when, in a desperate attempt to catch the Wake Forest coach’s eye, he walked directly into Prosser’s path.
“I bumped into him purposefully so Coach would get to know who I am,” Paul said through tears Tuesday night during Prosser’s funeral. “At the time, I never knew this man would change my life forever. He gave us a chance. He cared about us, and he helped us not only grow as basketball players but also as men.”
Prosser, who died suddenly last Thursday of an apparent heart attack, was remembered five days later as an engaging, congenial coach who brought integrity to the sport and reignited the students’ passion for Wake Forest basketball by leading Paul’s final Demon Deacons team to the first No. 1 ranking in school history.
“His integrity was unwavering,” Wake Forest associate head coach Dino Gaudio said. “Those of us that were blessed to be under his charge will carry that with us for the rest of our lives.”
Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, former Virginia coach Pete Gillen and ex-Wake Forest guard Muggsy Bogues joined the 11 other Atlantic Coast Conference coaches — including Tobacco Road rivals Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina — in packing the Catholic church where Prosser’s funeral was held.
“This is the very last day of the recruiting period, and I see so many coaches,” Gaudio said with a smile. “If he couldn’t be on the road recruiting, you guys couldn’t be on the road recruiting either.”
Penn State coach Ed DeChellis, who shared ties to western Pennsylvania with the Pittsburgh-born Prosser, called him “my dearest, closest and most trusted friend.” He got to know him through the network of assistant coaches and saying they called each other several times each week.
“The man I count on for direction is gone,” DeChellis said. “My compass in life has gone to another place.”
Shortly after returning from his noon jog last Thursday, Prosser was found unresponsive and slumped on his office couch by an assistant coach. Medical personnel performed CPR and used a defibrillator, but Prosser was pronounced dead after being taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Prosser spent six seasons with the Demon Deacons, reaching the NCAA tournament in his first four seasons and winning an ACC regular-season title and the league’s coach of the year award in 2003. The following year, Wake Forest went to No. 1 for the first time.
“Wake Forest is profoundly grateful for the gifts this remarkable man spread in our midst,” university president Nathan O. Hatch said.
Before arriving in Winston-Salem, Prosser was head coach at Xavier for seven seasons and at Loyola of Maryland for one. He is the only coach to take three schools to the NCAA tournament in his first season at each.
Prosser had a career record of 291-146, including 126-68 with Wake Forest, coaching future NBA stars Paul and Josh Howard.
Along the way, he helped create Wake Forest’s “tie-dye nation,” encouraging students to wear black-and-gold tie-dye T-shirts to games at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and dubbing them the “Screaming Deacons.” The team’s glitzy lineup introduction — in which the lights go out, spotlights swirl and the school mascot revs a Harley-Davidson as he enters the court — was another of his creations.
“But away from the games, he was the most understated man I know,” athletics director Ron Wellman said.
The funeral was simulcast at Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest campus, where several of the roughly 2,000 mourners wore tie-dye T-shirts in his memory.
The makeshift shrine on the campus quad remained as a tribute to Prosser, with toilet paper still floating in the breeze from the ash trees after students “rolled” it in his honor soon after his death. Dozens of flowers were laid by signs near the entrance, and one bore one of Prosser’s favorite mantras — “If you can’t be on time, be early. God called this play and Skip left early. Too early.”
“If Coach were here, he’d be upset, because it was never about Skip,” Gaudio said. “It was about the guys.”
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