Ray Skillman contributes to Nicoson renovations

Ray Skillman Auto Group is contributing to the University of Indianapolis’ renovation of Nicoson Hall with a gift of $500,000.  The gift was announced to the community during the men’s basketball game on Jan. 15. According to Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development Matt Donovan, the contribution had been discussed for two years. Everything began to fall into place, including the particulars of the gift,  at the end of the 2014 calendar year.

According to Donovan, the $500,000 is part of a five-year commitment, which means that the contribution will be paid over a five-year pledge. Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey said that the gift will allow UIndy to make improvements to Nicoson Hall, including painting the ceiling, installing new lighting and new carpeting around the track and a new basketball floor.

According to Willey, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Stan Gouard and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Constantin Popa, the new floor is the best renovation to the facility.

[From left to right] Alumnus Larry Hanni, alumnus Dennis VanEmon, Ray Skillman, alumnus Mike VanEmon and University President Robert Manuel pose for a photo. Ray Skillman contributed $500,000 to Nicoson Hall. Photo by Laken Detweiler
[From left to right] Alumnus Larry Hanni, alumnus Dennis VanEmon, Ray Skillman, alumnus Mike VanEmon and University President Robert Manuel pose for a photo. Ray Skillman contributed $500,000 to Nicoson Hall. Photo by Laken Detweiler
“It’s not quite the best surface to play on, and I know that this new floor is going to be different,” Popa said. “That’s the biggest thing we’re looking forward to.”

Both Popa and Gouard believe that the new floor will help to reduce the numbers of injuries but also will aid in recruiting.

According to Willey and Gouard, getting new lights and a new floor will improve the gym.

“Just a new floor is going to give our gym a face lift, and I think when the announcement came about, they [the players] were really excited about the floor more than anything,”  Gouard said. “With Nicoson Hall getting some renovations, it’s really going to help our recruiting.  It’s going to help out in terms of the lighting. It makes shooting a lot better.  It won’t be as dark as it has been in the past. Everything they’re doing we’re excited about.”

The renovations are going to be completed by next season, according to Willey. President Robert Manuel said the gift is evidence that the university and industry can work together.  It shows that the university and the community care about the athletic traditions at UIndy and about the ability to move forward.  Donovan said it is a tremendous honor that UIndy is the beneficiary of what Ray Skillman Auto Group is providing to UIndy Athletics.

“It is huge for an institution like us, because you don’t typically see things like this,” Donovan said.

Willey believes that if it were not for the Skillman Group, the renovations would not be possible. She learned about the contribution around Christmas and said that it was the best gift she could have gotten.

“We’re going to have a lot going on this summer,” Willey said.

UIndy will not only be renovating Nicoson Hall but also will be renovating the Krannert Memorial Library and finishing the Health Pavilion. UIndy Athletics also will add men’s and women’s lacrosse teams.

“We have some of the best student athletes and coaches at UIndy and this gift will allow us to teach and develop our students to their highest level,” Gouard said. “This contribution to UIndy Athletics will help us to meet the challenges that we face today so that we can move UIndy basketball forward into the future. The future is very bright at UIndy, and we are very grateful to Ray Skillman for their support.”