New College Officially Enters NAIA’s Sun Conference

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- by Cameron Williams

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Mighty Banyans’ entrance into the NAIA’s Sun Conference is finally official, with the school’s athletic programs beginning conference play in the fall of 2024.
New College of Florida’s journey to The Sun Conference is one to remember. Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida has long been known as the Honors College of Florida. New College’s reputation of success has continued since its conception, with the school being honored as the No. 5 Public National Liberal Arts College by U.S. News & World Report in 2023. New College’s highly individualized education has provided its students unique opportunities and career preparation experiences, setting up aspiring leaders for success.
New College Athletics was officially announced in the spring of 2023, with the creation of the “Mighty Banyan” by first-year student Anna Lazzara.
“When I heard the news that New College was seeking a new mascot, I began to think about what New College spirit means to me,” said Lazzara. “After much thought, I realized that the New College spirit is a combination of a supportive community and a stunning natural landscape. Both of these things, I believe, are perfectly represented in the form of a mighty banyan tree.”
Following the announcement of the school’s mascot, the school named Mariano Jimenez Jr. the program’s first athletic director and head baseball coach.
New College’s growth continued rapidly in the summer months, with the college announcing its six inaugural sports teams and hiring the program’s first coaching staff.
“I’m very excited about the coaching talent we brought to New College in our first year. We have brought in people with vast coaching experience and knowledge who also are bought into our mission,” said Coach Jimenez. “Our coaches care deeply about our athletes, and if we put our focus on preparing those athletes for the next stage of their lives, the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
New College’s first season in The Sun Conference will be a memorable one, as the Mighty Banyans join one of the most talented and competitive leagues in the NAIA.
In 2023, Sun Conference teams combined for 18 top-5 finishes in the NAIA Championships. The Sun Conference also had four second-place finishes, and six National Championship victories throughout the year.
This success was also seen in the prestigious Learfield Directors Cup, where Keiser (3), St. Thomas (8), SCAD Savannah (11), and Southeastern (13) all finishing at the top of the national rankings.
“We look forward to the opportunity to compete in The Sun Conference and the NAIA,” said Jimenez. “This is an exciting opportunity for our students and the Sarasota/Bradenton area. We are confident that New College of Florida will grow into a valued member of both organizations.”

For more information on NCF Athletics, please visit or follow them on social media @NCFBanyans.