Spurred by 17 of its 18 intercollegiate athletics programs participating in the postseason, the Gannon athletics department has recorded its highest Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Dixon Trophy finish since joining the league in 2008-09. The Golden Knights finished eighth out of 16 schools in the final standings released Tuesday afternoon by the conference office. In addition, Gannon recorded the PSAC’s highest scoring average among women’s programs.

The Dixon Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s most successful institution based on league playoffs and/or regular-season finishes. West Chester won the 2012-13 trophy for the first time in school history, narrowly edging out second-place Indiana (Pa.) by 0.03 point.

The award is named in honor of F. Eugene Dixon, Jr., former chairman of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors. Presented for the first time following the 1995-96 academic year, the trophy is now in its 18th year of existence.

The league adopted a new scoring format to calculate the Dixon Trophy standings in 2012-13. In previous years, only an institution’s top 12 finishes – six men’s and six women’s – were used to calculate a point total. This year’s standings were based on an average score for every PSAC Championship sport that an institution sponsors. The point values for each sport remained the same; 16 points to each conference champion and descending point values for respective placement. The second- through last-place values varied depending on the number of teams that sponsored the sport.

West Chester sat in third place after the winter championships, but surged into first place with strong finishes in numerous spring sports. The Golden Rams won the PSAC women’s lacrosse title and were the conference’s baseball runner-up. WCU won the trophy with a 10.77 overall average.

Indiana (Pa.) (10.74), Shippensburg (10.05), Slippery Rock (9.94) and Edinboro (9.85) completed the top five. California (Pa.) (9.59), Kutztown (9.45), Gannon (9.13), Bloomsburg (8.68) and East Stroudsburg (7.98) rounded out the top 10.

The 2012-13 women’s competition was dominated by Gannon with an 11.75 average. Overall champion West Chester was the next closest school on the women’s side with an 11.04 mark. Six of Gannon’s eight PSAC women’s programs placed third or higher. The women’s volleyball team led the way with its first-ever conference title. Women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s basketball and softball all finished second. Women’s swimming placed third while women’s lacrosse recorded a sixth-place finish.

Gannon’s eighth-place overall finish is an improvement of three spots from its 11th-place finish last year. The Golden Knights previously placed 12th in 2008-09, 13th in 2009-10 and 14th in 2010-11. The department was steady this year, ranking ninth after the fall seasons and eighth after both the winter and spring campaigns.

Softball led the charge during the spring season with 11.5 points. The Lady Knights finished second in the PSAC Western Division, before going 2-2 at the conference tournament. Baseball captured 10.5 points with its first divisional title in school history. Women’s lacrosse secured nine points with its fourth consecutive PSAC Tournament berth.

Eight different institutions have won the Dixon Trophy, headed by Shippensburg with seven titles. Lock Haven (3) and Bloomsburg (3) are the other institutions to win the trophy multiple times. West Chester, California (Pa.), Kutztown, Slippery Rock and Millersville have won the Dixon Trophy one time each.