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Wisconsin renames Kohl Center court in honor of Ab Nicholas

Beginning next season, the Kohl Center court will be known as “Ab Nicholas Court.”

The Kohl Center floor will have a new name next season.

Beginning in 2017-18, Wisconsin’s home basketball court will be known as “Ab Nicholas Court,” the Badgers announced before Thursday’s game against Ohio State. The late Nicholas was a former player for the Badgers and also a prominent booster for decades. Nicholas graduated from UW with a bachelor’s degree in 1952 and a master’s in 1955, and was a three-year starter at shooting guard for the Badgers. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 1951 and 1952 before capping his senior season as a second-team All-American.

In addition to renaming the court, the Badgers also announced they will hang Nicholas’s No. 8 jersey from the Kohl Center rafters.

After his playing career at UW, Nicholas—a Rockford, Ill., native who later built a successful business career in the Milwaukee area—remained dedicated to the university. Nicholas served as a member of UW’s Board of Regents, the School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and the National W Club Board of Directors. As donors, the Nicholas family donated $10 million toward construction of the Kohl Center in 1995.

The Badgers’ practice facility adjacent to the Kohl Center is named the Nicholas Johnson Pavilion in honor of Nicholas and his wife, Nancy Johnson Nicholas.

Throughout his life, Ab, and his wife, Nancy, were very active at UW. Nicholas served as a member of the Board of Regents, the School of Business Dean's Advisory Board, the National W Club Board of Directors and was a major donor to the University. The Nicholas' donated $10 million toward construction of the Kohl Center and gave $8 million to the UW School of Human Ecology from which Nancy graduated.

In 2016, the Nicholas Family, announced that they would match $50 million in donations supporting endowed scholarship and fellowship funds.

“When I think of Ab, I think of a true Badger,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a release. “I think of someone who loved this university and was proud of what he accomplished here. I’ll always remember him as a friend, a great Badger fan and a great family man.”

“Ab always liked to say that he was an average guy who got lucky,” UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “But anyone who knows Ab knows that he was exceptional. He was beyond a doubt, one of the most generous and kind-hearted people that I’ve ever met. His legacy lives on through the people, the programs and the buildings he has helped create.”

Read more about Nicholas and the Badgers’ reaction to Thursday’s announcement on