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Eaton Smith Named New Director of Athletics for Ottawa Campus


OTTAWA, Kan. – Ottawa University Campus President, Dr. Reggies Wenyika is pleased to announce the hiring of Janet Eaton-Smith as the Ottawa campus’s next Director of Athletics. Eaton-Smith will begin her tenure at Ottawa University on March 1.

“With her impressive background in athletic administration and wealth of experience, Janet will bring a fresh perspective to our athletic department,” said Dr. Wenyika. “A professional in the field, I am confident she will play a pivotal role in elevating our athletic programs to new heights, enhancing the student-athlete experience and overall well-being. I look forward to Janet’s positive impact on our athletic department and the broader campus community.”

Before coming to Ottawa university, Eaton-Smith was the Vice President of Athletics and the Senior Woman Leader at Lourdes University (NAIA) in Sylvania, Ohio. While at Lourdes, she was named the 2023 Nike NAIA Executive of the Year by Women’s Leaders in College Sports and was the 2020-21 Terry Bocian Athletic Director of the Year.

Under her leadership at Lourdes, the Gray Wolves were a five-time NAIA Gold Five-Star Institution, she added five athletic teams to the LU lineup, increased the department fundraising and worked to secure grants for facility improvements.

At Lourdes, Eaton-Smith became a member of the NAIA RISE (Respect, Inclusivity, Support, Education) program, providing an avenue for NAIA membership to participate in training and programming aimed at influencing positive change in the Association where all people are valued and provided equal opportunity in all aspects of life. She is also a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Eaton-Smith is also heavily involved in the NAIA at the national level. She was selected to serve a three-year term as a member of the NAIA National Administrative Council (NAC) in an at large position that began in 2021-22. The NAC serves as the primary leadership council in the NAIA related to postseason policies and competition regulations.  Eaton-Smith is also a member of NAC Champions Competition subcommittee.

“I'm truly humbled to be selected as the next Director of Athletics at Ottawa University,” said Eaton-Smith. “I'm extremely excited and eager to continue my journey in the world of sports by moving the needle forward, particularly in NAIA. I'm very thankful to Dr. Regg and the OU search committee for trusting me with the futurity for #bravenation.”

Before her time at Lourdes, Eaton-Smith spent four years as an assistant women’s basketball coach and adjunct professor at Indiana State University (ISU).
Prior to her time at ISU, Eaton-Smith spent six years at Wiley University (WU) where she was the head women’s basketball coach, an Associate Director of Athletics and the Director of Athletics. Eaton-Smith spent her final three years at WU as the full time Director of Athletics.

As the leader of the athletic department at Wiley, she was named the Red River Athletic Conference Athletic Director of the Year in 2013-14 and was appointed to the National Administrative Council for the NAIA in 2014. Eaton-Smith reinstated the men’s soccer program, along with starting the women’s soccer program and implementing the WU Hall of Fame. The athletics department won the RRAC GPA Award and the men’s track and field program was named a 2013 NAIA Outdoor Champions of Character Team.  Wiley also hosted the RRAC basketball tournament and cross country championships.

Eaton-Smith began her collegiate coaching career at Lamar University, where she was an assistant coach for the NCAA Division I women’s basketball program for four seasons.   

Before entering the college ranks, Eaton-Smith was the athletic director, women’s basketball coach, and a teacher at Xavier University Prep High School in New Orleans, La. Prior to that she was a teacher and a coach at St. Bernard High School in Louisiana. While at Xavier in 2001-02, she was the district’s Athletic Director of the Year, named Metro Coach of the Year, selected as the Co-Catholic Coach of the Year, and the Orleans Parish Coach of the Year. Eaton-Smith was also the sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Eaton-Smith graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, La. with a degree in health and physical education in 1994. She earned her master’s degree in education administration with an emphasis on diversity from the University of Phoenix in Kenner, La. in 2001.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and open inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution, serving more than 4,500 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz., and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Surprise, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; and online. Visit for more information.

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