Skip Prosser

George Edward "Skip" Prosser (November 3, 1950 – July 26, 2007) was an American college basketball coach who was head men's basketball coach at Wake Forest University at the time of his death. He was the only coach in NCAA history to take three separate schools to the NCAA Tournament in his first year coaching the teams.[1] In 21 years as a collegiate coach, he made 18 postseason appearances.[1]

Skip Prosser
Skip Prosser crop.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1950-11-03)November 3, 1950
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
DiedJuly 26, 2007(2007-07-26) (aged 56)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Playing career
1969–1972Merchant Marine
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1977–1979Linsly Military Institute
1979–1985Wheeling Cent. Catholic HS
1985–1993Xavier (assistant)
1993–1994Loyola (MD)
2001–2007Wake Forest
Head coaching record
Tournaments6–9 (NCAA Division I)
5–3 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
MAAC Tournament (1994)
MCC regular season (1995)
Atlantic 10 regular season (1997)
Atlantic 10 Tournament (1998)
ACC regular season (2003)
ACC Coach of the Year (2003)
MCC Coach of the Year (1995)

Previously, he coached Xavier University for seven seasons, where he achieved great success. He spent his first year of coaching at the collegiate level at Loyola College in Maryland, where he took the Greyhounds to the team's first modern-day NCAA Tournament appearance.

Prosser was the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2003.

Early lifeEdit

Prosser was born and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb of Carnegie[2] and graduated from Carnegie High School, where he played football and basketball.[1] He played basketball and rugby union at the United States Merchant Marine Academy where he earned a degree in nautical science in 1972.[3][4]

Prosser coached at Linsly Military Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he achieved a 38–9 record.[5] He then was hired as a history teacher at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, where he coached his teams to a state championship in 1982, five regional championships and three conference titles over a period of six years[3] and a record of 104–48.[5] Prosser would say later in his career that he would be happy if he were still teaching and coaching at Central Catholic High.[2] One of the players on his championship team was Doug Wojcik, former head coach at the College of Charleston.[6] Prosser earned his master's degree in secondary education from West Virginia University while he taught at Wheeling Central.[1][6]


Prosser coached 15 seasons as head coach at the collegiate level.[1] He began his college coaching career when he was hired by Coach Pete Gillen as an assistant coach for eight seasons at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, starting with the 1985–86 season,[7] and he became Gillen's top assistant.[5]

His collegiate head coaching career began at Loyola College in Maryland on April 1, 1993. Besides replacing Tom Schneider who had resigned in the midst of a then-school-worst 2–25 season, Prosser inherited a program that had completed its sixth straight losing campaign.[8] In his only season at Loyola, the Greyhounds finished with a 17–13 overall record and won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship to earn its first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament berth. He returned to Xavier exactly one year later on April 1, 1994 to succeed Gillen who had accepted a similar position at Providence College two days prior.[9] Prosser became the second-winningest coach in Xavier history after Gillen.[10]

Prosser began his career at Wake Forest in 2001 and led the Demon Deacons to the NCAA tournament in each of his first four years there.[3] Prosser is credited for sparking participation in the Wake Forest student Screamin' Demons and increasing attendance with game-time antics, like having the Demon Deacon mascot enter Lawrence Joel on a Harley Davidson and filling the coliseum with Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400" at tip-off and when the Deacons would go on a run. During Prosser's tenure as head coach, home season tickets sold out for the first time ever in 2004.[1] During the 2004–05 season, the team was ranked #1 by the Associated Press for the first time in the school's history and won a school-record 27 games. At Wake Forest, Prosser won 100 games faster than all but two ACC coaches.[1] In 2003, his Demon Deacons squad became the first from the ACC to ever lead the nation in rebounding.[1] In the summer of 2007, Prosser had organized what was said to be a top-five recruiting class for the upcoming year.[2]

Prosser was the collegiate coach of current or former NBA players Aaron Williams, James Posey, David West, Josh Howard, Darius Songaila and Chris Paul; he won national recruiting wars for Paul and Eric Williams. He amassed a career record of 291–146 (.666).[3][11]

Every senior whom Prosser coached earned his degree in four years.[1]

Coaching styleEdit

His teams were known for their fast tempo[7] and offensive explosiveness.

During his last two troubling seasons, he would quote Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, Friedrich Nietzsche or William Shakespeare to his players to inspire them.[2][3] The spring semester prior to summer exhibition tours, Prosser would require that every member of his team take a one-credit class on the history of the place they would be visiting. He would also attend the class and write the required term paper.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Prosser and his wife Nancy met in Cincinnati.[12] He had two sons, Scott and Mark, who are from his first marriage to Ruth Charles.[3] Mark was formerly the head coach at Division II Brevard College, served as an assistant coach at Winthrop University,[13] and is now head coach at Western Carolina.[14]

An avid sports fan, Prosser was a follower of the Pittsburgh Steelers since childhood and would often find sports bars to watch their games while on the road.[3] He was at Three Rivers Stadium to witness the Immaculate Reception.[10] He also saw Roberto Clemente's 3,000th and final hit, and the last game ever played at Three Rivers Stadium.[10] He once hitchhiked across the country.[2]

Prosser earned a reputation in college basketball for a keen intellect and sense of humor.[3] He enjoyed reading the books of Robert Ludlum,[3] along with biographies and books on history, philosophy and politics.[2] The athletic director at Loyola, Joe Boylan, said that Prosser was a "renaissance man coaching basketball."[3] Former Xavier player Dwayne Wilson said, "He always liked to read history books, so he was always quoting something—whether it be Winston Churchill or another great author—he was always quoting somebody on something."[15]

Prosser stated, in an interview that aired just after his death, that his favorite quote was from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "He was a transcendentalist in America in the 1830s who said 'Our chief want in life is someone who will make us do what we can.' I thought that was a powerful statement that we need to be around people who challenge us to be as good as we can be."[16]

Since 2009, Prosser's legacy has been celebrated in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with the annual READ Challenge as part of the Skip Prosser Literacy Program. The READ Challenge, a collaboration between Wake Forest Athletics and the Wake Forest Department of Education with support from the Winston-Salem based literary nonprofit Bookmarks, encourages and supports reading among fourth-grade students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. In the fall of 2019, a total of 1,441 fourth graders from 29 elementary schools participated in the READ Challenge. 903 fourth-graders read 1500 or more minutes before winter break, the highest participation total since 2014.[17]


On July 26, 2007, Prosser collapsed in his office around noon[3] after jogging[11][18] at the Kentner Stadium track adjacent to his office in the Manchester Athletic Center on Wake Forest's campus. A staff member found him unresponsive around 12:45 pm; medical personnel performed CPR and used a defibrillator in efforts to revive Prosser.[7] He was rushed to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:41 pm[3] from an apparent "sudden massive heart attack". He was 56 years old.[7][19]

The announcement of Prosser's death was delayed until later in the day because his wife was traveling to Cincinnati and had not yet been reached.[7] Players were gathered and taken to an off-campus location without their cell phones to guard them from reports of Prosser's death.[7]

Prosser ate lunch the previous day with his predecessor as Wake Forest coach, then University of South Carolina coach Dave Odom.[7] Prosser then ate dinner with his son Mark, who was also in Florida recruiting, before flying to North Carolina Thursday morning.[20]

Two funeral masses were held for Prosser. The first was on July 31, 2007 at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Clemmons, North Carolina, near the Wake Forest campus (due to seating limitations, this service was televised by closed circuit television to Wait Chapel on campus).[21] The second mass was held on August 4, 2007 at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati.[22] Prosser was then buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.[23]

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Loyola Greyhounds (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) (1993–1994)
1993–94 Loyola 17–13 6–8 5th NCAA Division I First Round
Loyola: 17–13 (.567) 6–8 (.429)
Xavier Musketeers (Midwestern Collegiate Conference) (1994–1995)
1994–95 Xavier 23–5 14–0 1st NCAA Division I First Round
Xavier: 23–5 (.821) 14–0 (1.000)
Xavier Musketeers (Atlantic 10 Conference) (1995–2001)
1995–96 Xavier 13–15 8–8 3rd (West)
1996–97 Xavier 23–6 13–3 1st (West) NCAA Division I Second Round
1997–98 Xavier 22–8 11–5 T–1st (West) NCAA Division I First Round
1998–99 Xavier 25–11 12–4 2nd (West) NIT Third Place
1999–00 Xavier 21–12 9–7 3rd (West) NIT Second Round
2000–01 Xavier 21–8 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Division I First Round
Xavier: 148–65 (.695) 79–31 (.718)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2001–2007)
2001–02 Wake Forest 21–13 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Second Round
2002–03 Wake Forest 25–6 13–3 1st NCAA Division I Second Round
2003–04 Wake Forest 21–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2004–05 Wake Forest 27–6 13–3 2nd NCAA Division I Second Round
2005–06 Wake Forest 17–17 3–13 12th NIT First Round
2006–07 Wake Forest 15–16 5–11 T–10th
Wake Forest: 126–68 (.649) 52–44 (.542)
Total: 291–146 (.666)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Skip Prosser". Wake Forest University official bio.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wetzel, Dan (2007-07-26). "A Loss For All of College Basketball". Yahoo! Sports.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Dinich, Heather A. (2007-07-26). "Skip Prosser dies at 56". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18.
  4. ^ White, Jeff (2007-07-26). "Coaches stunned by death". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23.
  5. ^ a b c "Skip Prosser Timeline". 2007-07-26.
  6. ^ a b Elliott, Jim (2007-07-27). "Coach Prosser Dies at Age 56". Wheeling Intelligencer.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Wake Forest coach Prosser dies of apparent heart attack at 56". Associated Press. CBS Sportsline. 2007-07-26. Archived from the original on 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
  8. ^ McMullen, Paul. "Loyola hires Xavier aide for basketball," The Baltimore Sun, Thursday, April 1, 1993.
  9. ^ Lambrecht, Gary. "NCAA TOURNAMENT: Prosser leaves Loyola, heads back to Xavier," The Baltimore Sun, Friday, April 1, 1994.
  10. ^ a b c "Five questions with Skip Prosser". Cincinnati Enquirer. 2000-02-06.
  11. ^ a b Veteran Wake Forest coach Prosser dies at 56 - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  12. ^ Doyel, Gregg (2006-01-29). "Prosser to Cincinnati? No time like the present". CBS Sportsline. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23.
  13. ^ "Mark Prosser". Brevard College. Archived from the original on 2011-10-11.
  14. ^ McCormick, Bret (March 27, 2018). "Winthrop basketball assistant coach lands head job". Rock Hill Herald. Rock Hill, SC. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  15. ^ Warren, Jay (2007-07-27). "Community Remembers Skip Prosser As More Than Just A Coach". WCPO.
  16. ^ "SportSouth Airing Tribute to Skip Prosser :: Coach Prosser's final interview with Sean Pragano". "". 2007-08-29.
  17. ^ "Skip Prosser Literacy Program". Alan Brown's Sports Literacy Blog. 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  18. ^ "Wake coach Skip Prosser collapses while jogging". Winston-Salem Journal. 2007-07-26.
  19. ^ Goodman, Jeff (2007-07-26). "Prosser, 56, dies of apparent heart attack". FOX Sports. Archived from the original on 2007-08-30.
  20. ^ DeCourcy, Mike (2007-07-26). "Prosser: A great coach, a truly good man". The Sporting News. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Prosser's Funeral Arrangements Announced., Retrieved on Aug. 4, 2007.
  22. ^ [1] XU Mourns in House Prosser Built. Cincinnati Enquirer, Retrieved Aug. 4, 2007
  23. ^ [2] Xavier community celebrates the life of former men's basketball coach Skip Prosser at Memorial Mass. Xavier University website. Retrieved Aug. 4, 2007

External linksEdit

  Wake Forest University basketball coach Skip Prosser dies at Wikinews