New College of Florida Trustees Choose ‘Mighty Banyans’ as Mascot

Conservative-dominated New College of Florida trustees appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis chose a new mascot Thursday for the Sarasota school: The Mighty Banyans.

The tree mascot will replace the one that has been in use since 1997, which is the mathematical formulation of the Null Set. That is usually expressed as “( )” and was seen by many students, faculty, and alumni as perfectly adequate for the quirky, historically progressive university that doesn’t use traditional grades.

This new pet features a fierce looking brown banyan tree with “arm” branches raised in a muscle flexing pose. Keep Null Set brackets as brows and rock a bushy hairstyle. New College is festooned with banyan trees big enough for a person to walk onto its bayside campus.

“It had to be something unique to New College,” interim president Richard Corcoran said.

Among many changes under the new trustees, New College is upgrading its sports teams to include baseball, softball, soccer and basketball, Corcoran said. Mariano Jimenez, a former Team USA Baseball coach and former sports agent, has already been hired as athletic director and baseball coach.

However, even this decision was not without controversy. Administrator Grace Keenan, president of New College’s student government, criticized the process for leaving out too many students and others who would want to participate in choosing a new school mascot.

“There are a lot of hurt feelings about how this has gone. It doesn’t look good,” Keenan said, noting that a student’s design was submitted Thursday.

Corcoran, however, said that he has discussed the mascot with numerous people in recent weeks. Corcoran also circulated a poll that included 16 choices for a mascot, from Sea Turtles to Gamechangers, though the list did not include Mighty Banyans.

“It’s not that there haven’t been conversations and inclusion,” he said.

New College has become the focal point of a campaign by DeSantis, who last week announced he will run for the Republican presidential nomination, to rid higher education in the state of left-leaning “woke” indoctrination on campuses.

New administrators previously fired the school’s president in favor of Corcoran and eliminated the university’s small office of diversity, equity and inclusion. The trustees later denied tenure to five professors despite criticism that such a move poses a threat to academic freedom.

Keenan said the trustees missed an opportunity to build bridges with students, faculty and alumni by pushing for the mascot vote.

“We are trying to develop relationships, trust and credibility. I think something like this is where we can collaborate,” she said.