New College of Florida has announced one of its most visible changes under interim president Richard Corcoran: the addition of an intercollegiate athletics department.
Though the Sarasota honors college already offers some intercollegiate sports — archery, esports, powerlifting, sailing and swimming — its opportunities are set to expand. Baseball is a given; the school has hired Mariano Jimenez as its coach and athletic director.
“We are confident that this hire will continue to elevate student life at New College of Florida and attract scholar-athletes to our campus to take part in competitive sports from baseball to softball to soccer and basketball,” Corcoran said in a statement.
The school is “open to any of the competitive sports offered by the NAIA,” its communications department said.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a separate entity from the NCAA that focuses on smaller schools.
Specifics will be finalized over the coming months but the goal is to start fielding teams “as soon as possible,” New College’s communications department said. The school will build any necessary facilities but will lease them in the area until then, it said.
The school aims to join the Sun Conference, which has 10 members across Florida and Georgia. The conference’s schools include Southeastern University in Lakeland, Ave Maria University in Ave Maria and Warner University in Lake Wales.
Jimenez went to Bradenton’s IMG Academy and has worked for USA Baseball and Palm Beach Atlantic University, among other roles.
“We’re looking forward to building a culture that emphasizes academic and athletic excellence,” Jimenez said in a statement. “We’re going to bring in outstanding people to contribute to this amazing community.”
New College is in the middle of a massive overhaul that has attracted national attention. The changes started this year when Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six new, conservative members to the liberal arts school’s board of trustees. They chose Corcoran, a former state House speaker and education commissioner, as the interim president.
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