For Xavier, it was Prosser all the way

April 03, 1994|By Michael Perry | Michael Perry,Special to The Sun

CINCINNATI -- Xavier athletic director Jeff Fogelson immediately knew who he wanted to coach his school's basketball team when Pete Gillen left last week to go to Providence College.

The question was: could he get him?

The answer officially came yesterday, when Skip Prosser, an assistant at Xavier for eight years before becoming head coach at Loyola College one year ago, was introduced as Gillen's replacement.

The challenge for Xavier was prying Prosser away from Loyola, where he led the Greyhounds to a 17-13 record and their first NCAA tournament appearance in his one season as coach.

"To be very blunt about it, the only hesitation on this whole thing was the impact on Loyola," Fogelson said.

But Prosser said yesterday this has been his dream.

"It's a job I always wanted when I was here, and it was tough leaving last year, but at the same time it was a great situation, and it was tough leaving Loyola," he said.

Terms of Prosser's contract were not revealed.

"There is a length, but that's as much as I would say," Fogelson said. "It's not a one-year contract for sure; we believe in long-term commitments."

Prosser said: "That's something I'd rather not discuss, but I'm very satisfied."

As soon as Gillen was rumored to be taking the Providence job, Prosser's name was mentioned as the likely successor.

Endorsements came from recruits, players, former players, coaches and members of the Cincinnati community.

"I felt as if a couple of years ago that if Pete were to ever go," Fogelson said, "Skip would be the first person that I would look to."

Michael Conaton, chairman of Xavier's Board of Trustees, said, "It's not often you can turn a negative into a positive as quickly as we have done."

"This is an emotional day for me," Prosser, 43, told a news conference crowd of nearly 200. "I'm very, very excited, very honored, very humbled to be here. It's hard to imagine that one year ago [Friday] was the press conference at Loyola . . . and one year later, here I am standing in front of you all back at Xavier. Sometimes miracles do happen."

Prosser went out of his way to thank Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan and acting president Thomas Scheye yesterday.

"Just like coach Gillen took a chance on me, those guys did, too," Prosser said. "They made an unbelievable commitment to our basketball program and unprecedented at that time for Loyola. And I'd especially like to thank the kids on the team at Loyola. They believed what we said, they fought hard and tried to execute what we said. They listened and believed, and for a first-year head coach, they made an unbelievable ride to get to the NCAA tournament."

The year as a head coach may have been the best preparation for taking over the Musketeers, Prosser said.

"It's a lot different being a head coach," he said. "I tried to train myself for that difference as an assistant, but until you're there making the calls, and not just Xs and Os or strictly basketball calls, but academic calls and discipline calls, it's a little bit different."

Prosser said his plea to his Xavier players will be the same as it was to his Loyola players.

"We told our kids at Loyola that when the fans walk out of the gym, we want them to be able to say, 'Man, those guys really get after it, they really play hard.' No matter what the score was, people had to be able to say that," Prosser said.

"Teams that played us, we didn't want them looking forward to playing us, and when they were done playing us, to be glad they were rid of us. Hopefully that will be the same thing here."

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