NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana, bolstered by four first-place finishes, scored 39 1/2 points to win the 2019-20 Thomas Howell Cup, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference's all-sports award.
XULA won the Howell Cup for the fourth consecutive year and the ninth time in the last 10 years.
Behind XULA was Philander Smith in second place with 28 1/2 points, Edward Waters third with 26 1/2 points, Dillard fourth with 24 points, Talladega fifth with 22 points, Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO sixth with 19 points, Tougaloo seventh with 18 1/2 points and Rust eighth with 13 points.
Scoring was limited to fall and winter sports. No spring champions were determined because of the COVID-19 pandemic which closed all GCAC campuses during the second half of March.
The Thomas Howell Cup, named for the GCAC's longtime commissioner, is awarded annually to the school with the most points based on order of finish in various sports. XULA was boosted by GCAC championships in men's cross country, women's cross country, women's volleyball (regular season and tournament) and men's basketball (regular season and tournament).
Although XULA won GCAC volleyball regular-season and tournament championships for the ninth consecutive year and swept both men's basketball titles, the university was credited with all-sports points only for the regular-season standings.
"It's a truly special honor to receive this recognition again," said Jason Horn, XULA's assistant vice president for student affairs/director of athletics & recreation. "It is a tribute to the outstanding performances, dedication and hard work of our student-athletes, coaches and support staff over the past year."
Horn added, "Xavier Athletics receives incredible support from our campus leadership and our faculty and staff. It truly is an overall team effort by all involved with our athletic department."
The runner-up finish in the Howell Cup standings was the best ever for ninth-year member Philander Smith. The Little Rock, Ark., school was seventh and last in 2016-17 and 2017-18, then climbed to fourth place a year ago.
Louisiana College and William Carey shared the first GCAC all-sports trophy in 1985-86. The trophy has been awarded for 33 years, with no determination in 1986-87 and 2005-06. Mobile won the trophy 18 times — 12 straight years from 1987-88 through 1998-99 — followed by XULA at nine, Spring Hill at three, and Belhaven, Dillard, Louisiana College and William Carey at one apiece. Mobile, Spring Hill, Belhaven, Louisiana College and William Carey are former members.
2019-20 Thomas Howell Cup Standings
|2.||Philander Smith||28 1/2|
|3.||Edward Waters||26 1/2|