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Wake Forest campus grieving following the loss of Prosser

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- 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 are incomplete, though a campus
prayer service is scheduled for Sunday afternoon 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."

But 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."

Now the same quad where students used to gather after big sports
victories stands as a tribute to Prosser, who was honored as the
Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year after leading the Demon
Deacons to the league's regular-season title in 2003. The coach had
even occasionally appeared there over the years to enjoy the
celebrations.

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

"It takes time," said football coach Jim Grobe, who led the
Demon Deacons to the Orange Bowl last season. "I don't think it
can happen overnight. Skip was a bigger-than-life guy. Everybody
knows those kind of people. They just have a twinkle in their eye.
Whenever you were around Skip, he just made you feel good. You just
knew you were going to enjoy being with him."

Dean Buchan remembers Prosser much the same way. Now the
assistant athletic director for media relations at Georgia Tech,
Buchan spent the past seven years in a similar position at Wake
Forest and worked closely with Prosser.

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."

The university said Friday that Prosser's youth basketball camp,
scheduled to begin Monday, would go on and the basketball staff
would work with the 170 campers in tribute to the coach.

It's unclear how the basketball program will proceed. Wellman
said Thursday night it was too soon to consider the next coach.

"We are about the business of honoring Skip right now," he
said.

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.com.

"The only two recruiting classes in the country that could be
mentioned in the same breath were Wake Forest and UCLA," said Dave
Telep, basketball recruiting editor for Scout.com. "They were the
toast of the town at the midway point of the summer. They were
riding high.

"There's no protocol for what happened [Thursday]. As a game,
we don't have a parliamentary procedure for when a head coach dies
before you ever get to campus. I think right now in this part of
the country, everyone is in a complete state of shock."