Xavier University Mourns the Loss of Beloved Basketball Coach Skip Prosser
July 26, 2007
CINCINNATI - The entire Xavier community is mourning the sudden death of beloved former basketball coach Skip Prosser. Prosser was entering his 7th year as head men's basketball coach at Wake Forest University when he reportedly collapsed and died of a heart attack this morning. He was head coach at Xavier from 1994-2001. He was an assistant coach at Xavier from 1985-1993.
The Xavier and Cincinnati communities will celebrate the life of Skip Prosser on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 9:00 a.m. with a memorial Mass at the James and Caroline Duff Banquet Room located in the Cintas Center. John LaRocca, S.J., rector of the Jesuit community at Xavier and a friend to Skip and his wife Nancy, will celebrate the Mass. The Mass will be followed by burial at a Cincinnati cemetery still to be determined. The Mass is open to the public. Doors to the center will open at 8:00 a.m. The Geo. H. Rohde & Son Funeral Home in Mt. Lookout is in charge of local arrangements.
"Skip was a terrific person. What we will remember about Skip is that he treated everyone with respect," said Mike Bobinski, associate vice president and director for athletics. "He added so much to Xavier University."
"Skip Prosser is a much beloved member of the Xavier family, and we all grieve this untimely loss," said Michael Graham, S.J., president of Xavier University. "Those of us who were privileged to know Skip as a friend and colleague will miss his positive spirit, energy and wit. Our prayers are with his wife Nancy, sons Scott and Mark and the rest of the Prosser family."
"Coach Prosser gave me a chance at Xavier when I came out of high school, he saw what other coaches didn't and I will forever owe him," said 2003 National Player of the Year and current New Orleans Hornets standout David West. "He never let me slack and taught me to look at the big picture, but to do the little things to improve every aspect of my life. He was a great coach, leader and friend to me and will be deeply missed."
"While he still had a tremendous passion for the game of basketball, what I feel most sad about is that I know how much Skip looked forward to the day that he could spend in retirement with his wife Nancy and his family," said Bobinski. "His successful record as coach speaks for itself. What he leaves behind is an example for all college basketball coaches of the right way to do things. I never heard anyone say a bad word about him as a person. He was a class act. I will miss him as a friend."
HISTORY OF PROSSER
As Xavier's head coach, Skip Prosser, who had led the Musketeers to four NCAA Tournament appearances in seven years, is already in second place on Xavier's all-time wins list for head coaches, having won 148 games in seven seasons at the helm (1994-2001). The only man ahead of Prosser on the list, Pete Gillen, had Prosser as his top assistant for 180 of his 202 wins from 1985-1993.
During Prosser's seven seasons at XU, the Musketeers secured six 20-win seasons including a then-school record five straight. Prosser also led Xavier into national postseason play in six times including five straight from 1997-2001.
XU made the NCAA Tournament in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001 and appeared in the NIT in 1999 (semifinal) and 2000.
Prosser, the 1996-97 Basketball Times Mideast Coach of the Year and NABC District 10 Coach of the Year, was 148-65 (.695) in seven years as head coach at Xavier University and his overall head coaching record stands at 291-146 (.667), which included stops at Loyola College and Wake Forest.
Prosser led Xavier to the 1998 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and XU captured back-to-back Atlantic 10 West Division Regular Season Championships in 1997 and 1998. Prosser's first Xavier team won the 1995 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Regular Season Championship with a perfect 14-0 mark, while earning him the 1994-95 MCC Coach of the Year award. His team at Loyola won the 1994 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship.
Many critics doubted Xavier chances when Xavier moved from the MCC to the Atlantic 10 for the 1995-96 season.
The Musketeers compiled a 23-5 record in Prosser's first season as Xavier's head coach (1994-95), including a spotless 14-0 record in Xavier's final season as a member of the MCC.
In 1997 Prosser led XU to a 13-3 league mark, which was good enough for an Atlantic 10 West Division Championship despite having no seniors among its top-six players. XU earned a West Division Co-Championship in 1998 at 11-5 and went on to win the Tournament Title.
Prosser's roots are deep in teaching experience. Prosser spent 13 years as a high-school teacher and coach in Wheeling, W. Va. before coming to Xavier.
Prosser's season at Loyola was true Cinderella Story. He took over a squad that finished 2-25 in the 1992-93 season but Loyola turned around its fortunes in Prosser's first season, finishing the year at 17-13 while advancing to the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance. It marked the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I basketball that year.
The underdog Greyhounds won three MAAC Tournament games en route to winning the championship and capturing the automatic NCAA bid.
Prosser, who spent eight years as the top assistant to head coach Pete Gillen at XU, was on the first staff put together by Gillen in 1995. During Prosser's time at Xavier, the Musketeers compiled a record of 180-67, capturing five MCC Tournament Championships and five Regular Season Championships while earning seven NCAA Tournament berths. XU advanced to at least the NCAA Tournament Second Round in four of its seven appearances, including the 1990 Sweet 16.
Prosser came to Xavier in 1985 as an assistant coach after an illustrious coaching career on the high school level. Prosser began his high school tenure at Linsly Institute in Wheeling, W. Va. before taking over as head coach at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling in 1979.
His six-year Central Catholic ledger read 104-48, including a State AA Championship in 1982.
Prosser, a 1972 graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. with a degree in nautical science, played three years of basketball as a guard and three years of rugby as a collegian. He received his master's degree in secondary education from West Virginia University in 1980. George Edward "Skip" Prosser, who was born November 3, 1950 in Pittsburgh, played prep football and basketball at Carnegie High School in Carnegie, Pa.