PSAC commissioner Steve Murray, Athletic Director Lisa Goddard McGuirk and Gannon President Dr. Keith Taylor
View photos from the Gannon's trophy presentation here.
“What a remarkable achievement by our student-athletes and coaches,” related Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk. “Their continued commitment to excellence is awe-inspiring. We are a family at Gannon, and this is a direct reflection of the belief in and support from our administration and community. We continue to build something special within our department through our pursuit of excellence. We will enjoy this moment together, followed by turning our attention to the possibilities ahead of us in the next academic year.”
This year marks the 25th time the PSAC has recognized a Dixon Trophy recipient since its inception in 1995-96. It is the first Dixon Trophy for one of the three PSAC institutions in Erie County, and the first time it has been won by a non-PASSHE institution.
The award is given annually to the institution that accumulates the top score based on results of conference playoffs and/or the regular-season records of each PSAC Championship sport it sponsors. For example, each sport champion earns 18 points - based on the league's membership total - and descending point values are awarded for respective placement. The trophy is named in honor of F. Eugene Dixon, Jr., former chairman of the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.
“We are extremely proud of the exceptional success of our athletes, our athletics teams and our athletics department. This is an exciting and well-earned recognition of their hard work and commitment to their teams and the sports they are so deeply passionate about,” said Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. “Our Golden Knights bringing home the Dixon Trophy is yet another milestone reached to add to the long-standing history of accomplishments for Gannon’s athletics programs.”
Gannon joined the PSAC in 2008-09 and had never finished higher than sixth in the Dixon Trophy standings before taking home the first-place title this year. That sixth-place showing occurred in 2018-19, the last time the Dixon Trophy was presented due to COVID-19 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Gannon’s first-place finish is the first time a school without a track program has won the Dixon Trophy and also the first time a school from the Western Division was the recipient since California University of Pennsylvania in 2013-14.
From the beginning of the 2021-22 season, it was apparent that the Golden Knights would be a force to be reckoned with. Gannon was second when the Dixon Trophy standings were released following the fall season, and the Golden Knights climbed into first place after the winter sports campaign.
Gannon produced an overall average of 12.97 to outdistance the other 17 institutions in the PSAC. Slippery Rock finished second with an average of 11.56, while Mercyhurst was third at 11.32. The Golden Knights had the top average on the women’s side at 13.56, along with standing third on the men’s side at 12.38.
“We are excited to celebrate receiving the Dixon Trophy and to recognize our student-athletes who’ve worked hard both in their sport and in the classroom, as well as the coaches, faculty and staff who’ve supported their athletic and academic experiences,” said Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., Gannon University Provost and Vice President for Student Experience. “Gannon is fortunate for the highly talented and dedicated athletes and coaching staff who are leading in the community and in their athletic programs across the region. I cannot think of a better way to recognize their successful seasons this year.”
While winning PSAC championships in women’s basketball and women’s golf and tying for first in wrestling, Gannon’s teams were strong across the board. Fourteen of Gannon’s 16 sports that compete in the PSAC finished in the top half of their standings. The volleyball team was second, as was the men’s soccer and men’s golf teams. Men’s swimming and diving came in third, and the women’s soccer team garnered the fourth-most points. Baseball picked up 15 points while winning the Western Division.
The Dixon Trophy punctuates an outstanding year of athletics for all 21 sports at Gannon, not just those that compete in the PSAC. Gannon entered the spring sports season ranked 26th in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, and first among all PSAC institutions. The Learfield Cup ranks all Division II programs. The final Learfield Cup standings will be announced in June following completion of all Division II championships.
The volleyball team reached the Final Four and ended the year with a 32-7 record, while the women’s basketball team won its second straight PSAC Championship and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. They ended the year at 24-7. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams qualified for their respective NCAA Tournaments and ended the year with records of 16-3-3 and 12-4-3, respectively. The men’s wrestling team qualified eight wrestlers for Nationals, with three earning All-American honors, and placed tenth at the Division II National Championships. The baseball team, as well as men’s and women’s golf teams just finished competition in the NCAA playoffs.
In non-PSAC sports, Gannon’s acrobatics & tumbling team enjoyed its finest season ever. They reached the NCATA National Championship for the first time before losing to Baylor in the finals. Gannon defeated numerous ranked teams including Oregon. The cheer and dance teams made the finals of the NCA and NDA National Championships. The women’s wrestling team finished tied for ninth at the NCWWC National Championships and had four All-Americans. The men’s water polo team won the Mid-Atlantic Western Region Championship and posted its best finish ever at the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference Championships, finishing sixth.
Gannon now joins several regional institutions who’ve garnered the Dixon Trophy title. Shippensburg leads all universities with eight Dixon Trophy’s, while West Chester has won five, including the previous two. Bloomsburg and Lock Haven have three apiece, while Cal U is a two-time winner. Kutztown, Millersville and Slippery Rock have all won one Dixon Trophy.
The university will continue the momentum of this exciting milestone for Gannon athletics. Gannon alumni as well as interested students and families are invited to join us as the Dixon Trophy goes on tour this summer, kicking off in Erie on June 16. For a schedule of tour stops and more information, visit gannon.edu/alumni.