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ND Basketball: Coach Brey receives first annual Skip Prosser award

Chris Khorey | Thursday, April 10, 2008

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey has won a lot of awards – but only one that commemorates one of his best friends.

Brey received the first annual Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award at the Final Four this weekend in San Antonio.

“It’s flattering given what Skip stood for in our profession,” Brey said. “He was one of the good guys and a true teacher. He’s the kind of gentleman you’d want your son to play for.”

Prosser, who coached at Wake Forest, died on July 26, 2007 soon after returning from Operation Hardwood in Kuwait, a program in which Brey also participated.

But the two knew each other well before their trip to the Middle East. Brey said they had a lot in common.

“We both got our start as high school coaches,” Brey said. “That’s why were kind of joined at the hip.

“That was an experience we had in our past that really helped us and we used to talk about that often.”

Prosser also had connections to Notre Dame. He got his break in coaching at a camp hosted by former Irish coach Digger Phelps in 1985. It was there that Prosser met Xavier coach Pete Gillen, who hired him as an assistant.

Prosser was planning on visiting Brey for the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech football last fall, a missed opportunity that the Notre Dame coach said made him emotional.

“He had never been out to a Notre Dame football game,” Brey said. “It was sad when I thought about that after the fact.”

Brey said that the award is an important way of remembering Prosser.

“More young guys in our profession should use Skip Prosser as an example, a guy that was in coaching and teaching for the right reasons,” Brey said. “He was very grounded.”

So grounded, in fact, that the award named after him didn’t even hold a banquet.

“The great thing about this award is that there was no dinner or banquet or media blitz, because that’s who Skip was – he was low-key,” Brey said. “We thought we should just get lunch or go to an Irish bar.”

Brey said that, going forward, he will be involved with the giving of the award. He said he hopes that all future winners – along with Prosser’s son, Mark – will be similarly involved.

“Mark and the previous award winners could honor the new recipient together,” he said.