University of Central Florida Athletics announced a $2 million pledge Monday afternoon by Tony and Sonja Nicholson.

In 1996, the Nicholsons made a seven-figure gift to UCF, who then honored the couple with the naming of the Nicholson School of Communication. According to UCF Athletics, the Nicholsons also committed $2 million to fund the construction of the Nicholson Fieldhouse – the first full-length indoor football practice facility in the south. The Nicholsons also helped pay for the Knights’ entry fee into the Mid-American Conference in 2002.


“Sonja and I are proud to make this gift commitment in recognition of the outstanding work of many fine young men and women who have worn black and gold, who compete fiercely and graduate,” Tony Nicholson said.

“We are proud of UCF’s graduation rate of 94 percent, ranking it near the top nationally, including the Ivy League. Our support also acknowledges the leadership of John Hitt and former UCF football coaches such as Gene McDowell and George O’Leary and our current coach Scott Frost. Additionally, we are thrilled to support Danny White’s vision of building a nationally-recognized athletics program and helping deliver on the Athletics Village effort. He is to be commended for hiring some exceptional coaches. We believe our future is very bright.”

The gift joins a $25 million Kenneth G. Dixon Athletics Village Vision led by UCF Athletics and Director of Athletics Danny White and the IGNITE campaign, a $500 million university-wide fundraising initiative.

“On behalf of our student-athletes and our entire athletic department, our most sincere thanks go to Tony and Sonja Nicholson for their amazing generosity, not only for this gift but for all their support of the Knights over the years,” said UCF Director of Athletics Danny White.

“This gift will benefit our programs immeasurably and will help us continue to deliver an exceptional student-athlete experience at UCF and pursue our goal of being a Top 25 intercollegiate athletics program. We’re grateful that Tony and Sonja believe in the vision of UCF Athletics and are committed to helping us continue to grow.”

Tony Nicholson served as chief of the UCF Development Committee and Sonja Nicholson has served as a member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors. Both currently serve as a member of the board of directors for the UCF Foundation as well as the UCF Athletics Association.

“Tony and Sonja Nicholson have been outstanding friends of the University of Central Florida for decades, giving generously to support student success in our classrooms and in athletic competitions and volunteering their time on many university boards,” said UCF President John C. Hitt. “Our UCF family appreciates Tony’s and Sonja’s steadfast dedication and strong passion for their hometown university.”