The university's first mascot was the Citronaut, which was designed by Norman Van Meter, the brother-in-law of FTU's then-president Charles N. Millican. The Citronaut made an official appearance on a university publication, the cover of the 1968–69 student handbook. The sports teams were originally known as the "Knights of the Pegasus" – UCF's first official mascot – beginning with their first intercollegiate competitions in 1970.
The moniker was switched to "Golden Knights" in 1993 as a solution to poor merchandise sales. The mascot of the athletic teams is Knightro, a black knight with gold armor. The university has asked to be identified as UCF when being referenced as opposed to Central Florida. Television networks and other media outlets, most notably ESPN, have been slow to adopt this policy.
In 2007, UCF made major changes to its athletic program. A new "athletic village" on the north end of campus known as Knights Plaza was developed. It included new sports facilities such as the new CFE Arena connected to the existing Venue at UCF and a new 45,000 seat football stadium known as Spectrum Stadium, a new softball complex, and the only Division I indoor football practice facility in the state. This made UCF the first school to ever open a new stadium and arena at the same time, for the 2007-08 season.
It also includes Jay Bergman Field and UCF Soccer and Track Stadium. The area was built in a downtown style with four towers of student housing including approximately 1000 beds, retail and restaurant areas, and a new pedestrian mall connecting the front of the new arena to the student union. To mark the start of the new era, the teams names were reverted to "Knights" from the "Golden Knights" on May 4, 2007. In addition, new logos and uniforms were unveiled for all of UCF's athletic programs.