Sunday, March 28, 1999

Notre Dame has pros, cons for Prosser




BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TAMPA, Fla. — Published reports have said the Notre Dame job is Skip Prosser's if he wants it.

        That may or may not be true.

        But Prosser could end up with a difficult decision to make: Does he remain as Xavier's men's basketball coach or take over the Fighting Irish?

        Prosser and his wife, Nancy, are in the Tampa area attending the Final Four; so is Notre Dame Athletic Director Mike Wadsworth and Associate A.D. Bubba Cunningham. A meeting is expected to take place while everyone is in town.

        Some of the issues for Prosser:

Pro Notre Dame
        • 1. Notre Dame has always been a dream job in Prosser's mind. He worked a basketball camp there when Pete Gillen was a Fighting Irish assistant and holds the institution in high regard. As a person, Prosser fits the profile of what Notre Dame is looking for, and the school fits Prosser's kind of preferred environment. Not to mention that the school has a larger-than-life mystique.

        • 2. Resources. Notre Dame is bigger, certainly has more money available and a greater alumni base. All of that has to be appealing. It also plays in the Big East Conference, which is a better league than the Atlantic 10.

        • 3. Money. Notre Dame has said it isn't going to sign a blank check for its next coach, but chances for exposure and supplemental earnings are greater — although TV shows, speaking engagements and endorsement opportunities have never been Prosser's priorities.

        • 4. Timing. There are a lot of question marks about the Musketeers for the 1999-2000 season, especially if a big man is not signed this offseason. Three of the top 12 scorers in school history graduate this spring. Prosser has lived in Cincinnati every year but one since 1985, and it might just be time for a change of scenery and a new challenge.

Pro Xavier
        • 1. Prosser has a great relationship with first-year athletic director Mike Bobinski, and knowing where you stand and liking your boss count for something. Meanwhile, Wadsworth reportedly told Utah's Rick Majerus that Notre Dame President Rev. Edward E. Malloy and executive vice president Rev. E. William Beauchamp rejected the recommendation that Majerus get the job.

        Does Prosser want to walk into a situation where everyone is not on the same page?

        Also, Wadsworth has told candidates that he gave a five-year commitment to the school when he took the job. This is his fourth year.

        Notre Dame's first choice was Majerus, and the school continues to interview candidates. That's not the sign of a school convinced it wants one specific guy.

        Meanwhile, Xavier President James E. Hoff, Board of Trustees president Michael Conaton and Bobinski met with Prosser in New York and made it clear that they want him to stay. The group discussed in detail Prosser's future at the university.

        • 2. Location. When Prosser recruits, he loves to sell the city of Cincinnati. Plus, Nancy Prosser's family is in Louisville, and Prosser's mother and son Scott live in the Wheeling, W.Va., area. All are a quick drive from Cincinnati.

        • 3. Security. Xavier is the kind of place Prosser probably can stay as long as he wants. Notre Dame's program is down, and the next coach is going to have some work to do. How long will that coach have to be successful before his job is at stake?

        • 4. Cintas Center. Xavier plays just one more season in the Cincinnati Gardens, then moves into a brand new arena for the 2000-2001 season.

On the other hand ...
        • 1. Football. The sport brings a boat-load of money into the Notre Dame coffers. But at Xavier, where there is no football, men's basketball rules. The commitment to basketball at Notre Dame has not been strong in recent years. Officials are talking a different game now, but only time will tell.

        • 2. Recruiting. Selling Notre Dame as a school? Prosser would love that. He has talked about how easy it is to go into players' homes and sell Xavier because he believes in the university. He would have the same passion for Notre Dame. But it's not as likely that the Lenny Browns and James Poseys — both of whom will earn degrees in May — are going to get into Notre Dame, which might make it more difficult for Prosser to play the uptempo style of basketball he favors.

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