Utley founded The Mike Utley Foundation after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed in 1991. The Mike Utley Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries while providing much-needed support for research, rehabilitation, and educational programs that have a profound and positive impact on the lives of so many. Utley’s courageous “Thumbs Up!” gesture has come to symbolize his fighting spirit and provided inspiration to the entire Cougar family.
During his time at WSU, Utley led the Cougars to a victory at the 1988 Aloha bowl, and became the second WSU player to earn consensus first team All American honors. In Feb. 2004, Utley was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
The WSU Alumni Achievement Award was created in 1970 by the WSUAA Board of Directors to recognize alumni who have given outstanding service to WSU and made contributions to their professions and communities. The award also serves as encouragement to alumni to provide perpetual service to Washington State University.
Since 1890, an estimated one-quarter of a million Cougars have graduated from WSU. Mike is the 465th alumni to receive the award.