WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Skip Prosser, who led Wake Forest to its first basketball No. 1 ranking three seasons ago, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, the university said. He was 56.
Prosser was found slumped on his office couch and unresponsive by director of basketball operations Mike Muse shortly after returning from his noon jog, athletics director Ron Wellman said. 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.
Wellman said he was unaware of any previous health issues for Prosser, calling his death "a devastating loss" during a news conference Thursday night.
"Because of his strength, we'll be able to go on and we'll be just fine eventually," Wellman said. "We're not right now. We're all suffering right now."
Dr. William Applegate, the dean of the university medical school, said the events were "typical of a sudden massive heart attack."
|Skip Prosser compiled a career record of 291-146, including 126-68 with the Demon Deacons. (Getty Images)|
Confirmation of Prosser's death was delayed until Thursday night because his wife was traveling to Cincinnati and could not be reached to notify her, Wellman said.
He said team officials gathered several players in the afternoon and took them to an off-campus location without their cell phones for about four hours in an attempt to temporarily shield them from news reports of Prosser's death.
"They've all been in shock," Wellman said. "The longer it went, probably they realize that it was a tragic situation, but when I told them, it confirmed their worst thoughts, and they responded as you would expect, a bunch of 18-to-22-year-olds who I think loved their coach."
Prosser had been in Orlando, Fla., earlier this week for an AAU national tournament and had lunch Wednesday with South Carolina coach Dave Odom, his predecessor at Wake Forest.
Prosser spent six seasons with the Demon Deacons, winning an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title in 2003 and reaching the NCAA Tournament in his first four seasons. Wake Forest went to No. 1 for the first time during the 2004-05 season.
Chris Paul, who went on to star in the NBA, was the point guard on that team.
"His passing is a tremendous loss for the entire Wake Forest community," Paul said in a statement. "He played a very significant role in my life and his influence extended well beyond the game of basketball. He taught me many valuable life lessons and was someone I admired with the utmost respect."