New College of Florida athletics gets admittance to NAIA; could carry 23 sports by 2027

By: - October 5, 2023 6:40 pm

College Hall at the New College of Florida in Sarasota. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

As part of a complete and controversial overhaul by the DeSantis administration, New College of Florida announced it will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) – as part of The Sun Conference.

“Our goal to become the nation’s top liberal arts college will be enhanced by joining the prestigious institutions in the NAIA Sun Conference,” New College President Richard Corcoran said in a statement earlier this week.

New College, based in Sarasota, will be the only public university in Florida to compete in the NAIA – a governing body for collegiate athletics designed for small institutions; and the 10th full member of the Sun Conference, which is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

David A. Armstrong, Interim Sun Conference Council of Presidents Chair, said the unanimous decision to admit New College came after a thorough vetting process.

“Their preparation for the Sun Conference visit and the leadership of their institution as it pertains to having a first-rate athletic program at one of the most prominent academic colleges in the country, was very impressive,” Armstrong said in a statement. “The Sun Conference is a nationally recognized member of the NAIA, and we believe the addition of New College will only enhance that reputation.”

In June, the school unveiled its new mascot, the “Mighty Banyan” – with a student-designed graphic of a buff, flexing Banyan tree. New College’s entrance into the NAIA will be effective July 1, 2024.

A school’s admittance into the NAIA is based on factors such as financial stability, accreditation, enrollment, retention, and commitment to athletics, according to a press release.

New College recently named Mariano Jimenez its athletic director and basketball coach. According to New College athletics’ relaunched website, the school will start by offering six sports: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball.

New College is negotiating with IMG Academy and State College of Florida to host practices and games, according to its August 2023 business plan. The school projects to grow from 140 student-athletes to 350.

“By filling in our championship and developmental rosters across each sport, we anticipate growing from 140 student-athletes in 2023 to 350 by Fall 2027,” according to the business plan.

The report also says the school plans to add another 17 sports within five years: men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s bass fishing, men’s and women’s golf, beach and indoor volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s swimming, and men’s and women’s dance.

“New College intends to grow its athletic program in parallel with growing its academic program,” the report said.

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Christian Casale
Christian Casale

Christian covers education, politics, and whatever else interests him for the Florida Phoenix. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor with the Independent Florida Alligator.