In Utah Valley University’s bid to establish athletic legitimacy both locally and nationally, no one has been more instrumental in pushing Wolverine sports into prominence than athletic director Mike Jacobsen.
But Jacobsen’s 29 years of devoted service will come to an end this year; the university announced Monday that he will retire at the end of June.
“Mike has nearly quite literally seen it all. It is becoming less and less common for someone to exhibit this kind of loyalty to one institution, particularly in the athletics profession, where things seem to change on almost a minute-by-minute basis,” said President Matthew Holland.
“When you spend so many years at one place and put so much effort into doing what you love, it’s hard to say goodbye,” Jacobsen said. “My wife and I love the university and will always be the biggest supporters of UVU.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Holland.
“UVU is part of Mike’s permanent makeup, and I don’t see that ever changing as long as he lives,” Holland said. “He’s given his all to this program the past 29 years, and this institution will always be grateful to him for that. 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.”
Jacobsen has been at the helm through an ever-expanding school and athletic program, winning the NACDA Athletic Director of the Year award for the Junior/Community College West Region in 2000. He was also the recipient of the William L. Miller Award in 2001, which is given annually to the administrator of the year for the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA).
Personal accolades aside, his career-long aspirations were realized in 2012 as UVU was accepted after multiple failed bids to enter the Western Athletic Conference.
“I feel really good about the state of the program,” Jacobsen said. “It’s not a matter of moving on to something bigger and better; it’s just time. Joining the WAC has been something we’ve been working on for a long time, so I’m happy to have that come together before stepping down.”
There is one thing above all that Jacobsen finds alluring: time — time for the unknown and time for family.
“We have some retirement plans, but that will all come together once it happens. I do have three grandkids that are starters on their basketball teams, and it’s been really tough to get to their games, so I’m looking forward to that,” Jacobsen said.