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Skillman pledges $500K for Nicoson upgrade

Skillman-ManuelUIndy President Robert Manuel presents a game ball to auto dealer Ray Skillman during a special announcement at halftime of the men’s basketball game Thursday.

Auto dealer’s gift will buy new floor, lights and more for Greyhound basketball

The University of Indianapolis’ successful basketball teams – including an undefeated men’s squad currently ranked third in the nation – will have a renovated home next season, thanks to the generosity of a local businessman and philanthropist.

Ray Skillman Auto Group has pledged $500,000 to replace the basketball floor and install more effective and efficient LED lighting in UIndy’s 4,000-seat Nicoson Hall, home to the Greyhounds since 1960. Skillman himself joined university President Robert Manuel on Thursday to announce the gift at halftime of the men’s victory over rival Bellarmine University, which improved UIndy’s season record to 14-0.

The renovation work, which includes other improvements to the facility, will begin immediately after the current season and should be completed in time for 2015-2016 play. In recognition of the gift, the competition floor will be dubbed “Skillman Court,” with a dedication ceremony taking place this fall.

“Our student-athletes certainly have earned these upgrades with their performance on the court and in the classroom,” Manuel said. “It is quite fitting that this support comes from Ray Skillman, who shares the university’s commitment to the residents and the economic vitality of this part of the city.”

In recent years, Ray Skillman Auto Group has provided more than $3 million to support schools, parks, food banks, youth sports and other charities, particularly on Indianapolis’ south side. Skillman entered the local market in 1979 with a single dealership on South U.S. 31 and since then has grown the company into one of the nation’s Top 100 dealers, with 17 franchises in 13 central Indiana locations representing such brands as Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Mitsubishi.

“The University of Indianapolis is a vital anchor in the community where we do business,” Skillman said. “We greatly admire the university’s dedication to its students and their families, and we’re delighted to partner with an institution that prepares new leaders for our city, state and nation.”

Nicoson Hall, considered one of the top Division II basketball venues in the region, has hosted training camps for the Indiana Pacers and practice sessions for their NBA foes, as well as practices for Final Four and Big Ten Tournament competitors. The building is named for the late Angus Nicoson, longtime athletic director and basketball coach for the Greyhounds.

The UIndy men’s team has reached the NCAA Tournament for the past four seasons under head coach Stan Gouard. The women’s team, which also defeated Bellarmine on Thursday, has reached tournament play for the past three years under head coach Constantin Popa.