USU Leading Ladies: Jana Doggett
College athletics. The phrase instantly conjures thoughts of roaring crowds, star athletes, blaring speakers and glittering video boards. At most universities, athletics is an integral part of the college experience and Utah State is no different. Some of student’s best memories are made at a USU football game or while watching Aggie basketball. But what does it take to consistently host events that cater to thousands of fans? The simple answer is: people. A lot of people who work in numerous departments within the athletics department, that include: athletic ticket sales, marketing, outbound sales, video teams, development and fundraising, corporate sales, media relations, event operations, facilities and more. And what do these departments all have in common at Utah State? They all report to one woman. Jana Doggett.
Jana serves as the deputy director of Utah State Athletics and is just now finishing her tenth year with USU. A San Diego State University alum, and former SDSU athletics administrator, Utah State was never part of the plan. “The only reason I came to Utah State was because of Randy Spetman. I knew nothing about the state of Utah or the University,” Jana said. Spetman, former USU athletics director, was serving as the AD for Air Force Academy while Jana worked as an athletics administrator for SDSU, during which time they developed a friendship. Eventually, Jana would agree to work for him at Utah State for one year. Ten years later, Jana continues to serve as one of the highest-ranking members of the athletic department, second only to John Hartwell, the athletic director.
“My duties are pretty broad; I am the primary as it relates to running the department internally. John’s focus has more to do with fundraising, and working through details from an NCAA perspective and a conference perspective and I’m more the boots on the ground,” she said. Jana works with every one of USU’s sixteen sports in some capacity and is actively involved in decisions related to the administration, student-athletes, coaches and support staff. She considers her relationships with her employees as one of the most rewarding parts of her job. “The people we have working for us are committed and it’s not just about money, it’s about being better and making the department better.”
However, being a woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated field has its challenges. “Many donors here assume that I just work with the women’s sports. There’s a general assumption that because you’re a female you can’t possibly have anything to do with the male sports; you can’t possibly have anything to do with the budget.” These sentiments have been experienced by Jana throughout her career, as she progressed and moved through different positions in the athletics world. “It always seemed like I was coming in and taking over a male’s role. It’s always easier, for whatever reason, for people to perceive men as working in athletics.”
Being not only a woman, but a woman in charge further complicated things. “Some men have a tough time reporting to a female. There have been some men who have said, outright, ‘I just can’t work for you’. It’s a male ego thing, it can depend a lot on how they were raised, what they’re used to, but it’s not my problem, it’s theirs. But if you make it your problem, they’ve won.”
Jana explained that while women in this business must be able to stick up for themselves, they also have to exercise patience and tact. “You can’t take yourself too seriously. You can’t be offended by unintelligent responses from people. There are a lot of perceptions that just aren’t reality and you can’t come across as offended every time those situations arise.” In any business, Jana explained how important it is to be confident in yourself and the decisions you make. “You have to figure out how to build your own confidence. If you’re looking for someone within the business to do it for you, you’re probably not going to get it, especially in athletics.” Confidence, however, must be maintained without inflating your ego, she explained. “Showing strength doesn’t mean you have to be a bitch. It doesn’t mean you have to be in people’s faces, it just means you have to be secure in the decisions that you’re making.”
Though her impressive career has seen many achievements, Jana is most proud of one thing in particular. “I have a two and a half year-old little boy and he is my absolute greatest achievement.” Jana is married to USU men’s basketball associate head coach, Tarvish Felton and together they have a beautiful boy named Deekan.
Through the challenges and successes of her career, Jana has learned many valuable lessons. “Life is all about learning. It’s truly what you make it. And if you get stuck, you’ve got to figure out how to get unstuck.”
Getting stuck in life is inevitable. Getting unstuck, however, and doing it with strength, confidence and class, is something we’re privileged to learn from one of Utah State’s strongest female leaders, Jana Doggett.
Know any remarkable women at USU? To nominate them for a feature story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org