A tribute to a visionary

A tribute to a visionary

 

Garrett Coleman, Assistant Sports Editor

 

Mike Jacobsen has traveled a long road, one filled with service and devotion to UVU athletics. Jacobsen officially ended his 29-year career as athletic director of UVU, retiring in June.

 

No one has done more for UVU athletics than Jacobsen. Having started 29 years ago, no one could have dreamed of the accomplishments that were to follow his hard work.

 

“He built a program virtually from scratch in many regards and now leaves us with a quality Division I level operation in a regionally competitive conference,” said UVU President Matthew Holland.

 

When Jacobsen started, the school was still primarily competing against other junior colleges and was having success. However, Jacobsen knew the athletics could accomplish more, especially at a higher level. In 2001, Jacobsen applied with the NCAA to explore moving then-UVSC athletics to NCAA Division I.

 

In July 2008, Utah Valley completed the lengthy provisional period, and became the first community college in modern day history of the NCAA to transition from a two-year school to Division I.

 

“Moving up to Division I would have to be my highest point,” explained Jacobsen. “To have the athletic programs competing at such a high level in such a short time is spectacular.”

 

While competing as an Independent before joining the Great West Conference in 2010, UVU continued its success under Jacobsen. Over the course of time the Wolverines claimed a host of region championships and had top-ten national finishes in volleyball, basketball, softball, track, golf and cross-country along with a national championship in softball and a provisional men’s basketball title in 2004.
Since joining the GWC, UVU has slain the competition, winning championships in almost every sport associated with the conference and capturing the Commissioner’s Cup in four consecutive years, beginning in 2010. The numerous achievements during the 11-year run since the submission of the application for D-I entry have earned the Wolverines the opportunity to secure bids in the major NCAA tournaments, which comes as a result of joining the WAC in 2013.

 

Jacobsen’s legacy of hard work and service has not gone unnoticed. He had a vision of what the athletic program could be and followed that vision until he was able to make it a reality—redefining the impossible in college sports in the process.

 

Under Jacobsen’s direction, Utah Valley University has gone from playing their games at local high schools to having outstanding on-campus facilities. The basketball teams play in the 8,500-seat UCCU Center, while volleyball and wrestling use the 2,000-seat Activity Center.

 

The 5,000-person capacity of Brent Brown Ballpark is the home to UVU baseball, one of the premier baseball stadiums in the West. Most recently, Utah Valley completed the Hal Wing Track & Field, another quality facility. This all adds to Jacobsen leaving UVU athletics in a much better state that he found it in.

 

He will be missed, but his stewardship moved UVU athletics in the right direction, overcoming various roadblocks on the way to the promised land of Division I. The future looks bright for the Wolverines who will now be able to compete at an even higher level of competition by joining the WAC. The time has come to salute and thank Mike Jacobsen for his everlasting contributions, his decorated legacy now complete.

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