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Archive for Saturday, July 28, 2007

Students, faculty remember Prosser

Campus quad decorated Friday as if a traditional victory party had just ended

July 28, 2007

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— The campus quad looked much as it did after some memorable basketball wins at Wake Forest. Toilet paper hung from trees and fluttered in the breeze as if a traditional victory party had just ended.

On Friday, it was there for a different reason: to honor Skip Prosser.

The coach - who led the Demon Deacons to their first No. 1 basketball ranking three seasons ago - died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, leaving the university in grief as it tried to move forward.

"It's something that he would have enjoyed," said Patrick Crist, a senior history major. "I think this is probably one of the best tributes we could have given him - especially on such short notice. But I think it's something he's probably looking down on and appreciating."

Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman said arrangements for a funeral or memorial service were incomplete, though a campus prayer service is scheduled for Sunday at Wait Chapel.

He wouldn't talk about the future of the program and its assistant coaches, or when he would be ready to hire a new coach.

"Our intent and goal the next few days is to honor Skip and support the family," Wellman said, "and all those other matters are being pushed back until after this most important matter has been satisfied."

It was clear the campus was trying to come to terms with the loss of the 56-year-old coach, who was found slumped on his office couch and unresponsive by director of basketball operations Mike Muse shortly after returning from his noon jog Thursday. Medical personnel performed CPR and used a defibrillator on Prosser, who was taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and pronounced dead at 1:41 p.m.

Dr. William Applegate, dean of the university medical school, said the events were "typical of a sudden massive heart attack."

Near Wait Chapel, someone placed a bouquet of white roses. A sign close to the quad entrance read, "Thanks for the memories, Skip."

Dean Buchan, media relations director at Kansas before heading to Wake Forest, remembers Prosser fondly. Buchan worked closely with Prosser the past seven years.

Buchan remembered a shootaround at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2006. Prosser climbed into the empty courtside bleachers that are home to the famously rowdy "Cameron Crazies" and pretended to be one himself - a moment Buchan captured by taking a picture with his cell phone.

"Skip was definitely not serious all the time," Buchan said. "Inside the lines, when the clock was running, yeah, you didn't mess with Skip. But outside the lines, he was somewhat of a character."

Prosser's basketball camp, scheduled to begin Monday, would go on. But it's unclear how the program will proceed. Among the questions: What will happen with the strong recruiting class Prosser was building this summer? The commitments included forward Al-Farouq Aminu of Norcross, Ga. - ranked No. 3 nationally by Scout.com - as well as center Ty Walker of Wilmington, N.C., ranked No. 14 by Scout.

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