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Dominion Energy, Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Spotlight: Doug Doughty

Nothing cavalier about Doughty’s decades-long coverage of UVa … and more

This is the third in a series of stories on the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame website profiling the eight members of the Hall’s stellar induction Class of 2018. Induction weekend is scheduled April 7, 2018, at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts at the Town Center of Virginia Beach.
By JACK BOGACZYK,
Hall of Fame Class of 2017
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On longevity alone, Doug Doughty is a more-than-worthy inductee to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. His sportswriting career in the Commonwealth is longer than Ralph Sampson’s inseam.

And while Doughty – a 44-year veteran of the Roanoke Times staff – is unquestionably driven, there’s another way to look at his bylined days covering University of Virginia athletics and plenty more.He’s not driven to what he covers. Doughty mostly drives. He probably should be a staff writer for Car & Driver.

“I’ve made the Roanoke-to-Omaha round trip on four occasions,” Doughty said. “Once to cover the College World Series, once to an NCAA (Tournament) basketball game and twice in the same week when Matt (the Doughtysyoungest son) was on the UVa team that won the 2015 College World Series (which Doughty didn’t cover, carefully avoiding any potential conflict of interest).

“Roanoke-to-Omaha is approximately 17 hours. Other long drives to cover events include Hattiesburg, Tallahassee, Miami on multiple occasions, Chestnut Hill (Boston College), East Lansing and Memphis. I have flown to Anchorage, Boise twice, Las Vegas, Portland (Ore.), Austin, Denver twice, Utah twice and Seattle, so I do fly … reluctantly.”

The point is that he’s gotten there and done the job and done it well, back to the days in 1974-75, right after he joined the Times’ staff to cover Roanoke minor league hockey and Salem Class A baseball. When the newspaper went to a more formal beat system in 1978, Doughty took on the Cavaliers’ coverage … while doing much more in those four decades while winning 40 career awards for his work.

Now, he’s the media honoree in this year’s Virginia Sports Hall of Fame class. The eight-person Class of 2018 will be inducted on April 7 at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach. And Doughty, 65, is the fifth journalist from the Roanoke staff of the late 1970s and 1980 to be inducted.

Doughty has staffed every ACC basketball tournament since 1975.

“With more than 40 years of experience as a reporter, Doug has become part of the fabric of covering sports in the state of Virginia and throughout the ACC,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “His skillful coverage and very knowledgeable perspective of Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and our entire league has been evident and superbly displayed for years. This is a well-deserved honor for Doug, and I congratulate him and his family.”

Doughty’s collegiate athletics coverage focus has been on “Mr. Jefferson’s University.”

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“It’s remarkable how long Doug Doughty has covered the University of Virginia athletics program for the Roanoke Times,” said retired UVaSports Information Director Rich Murray, himself a Virginia Sports Hall of Famer (2016). “Doug has a wonderful historical perspective on Wahoo athletics after covering the program for decades, and on sports in the state of Virginia. I wonder how many times he’s made the drive from Roanoke to Charlottesville and back?
“I respect Doug’s hard work and his knowledge of the entire Virginia athletics program, not just the high-profile teams. He’s a UVa graduate, but he’s a professional journalist and that’s how he covers the program. I think it’s also impressive that he still covers high school football.

“Doug has earned many awards for his writing and he’s very deserving of his selection for induction into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.”

Yes, while Doughty has covered about 50 PGA Tour events – including 14 U.S. Opens and 10 Masters — in his career, he also has staffed high school football games for 45 seasons. He worked eight games this past fall around his UVa assignments.

His special niche, however, was his development of recruiting coverage – particularly of in-state football and basketball prospects – long before anyone heard of “recruiting-intensive” websites that have grown in prominence and number as the years have passed.

But there’s much more to Doug than his award-winning work.

He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the environs of the nation’s capital. He attended St. Albans School from grades 4 through 12, and was on a choirboy scholarship from grades 5-8. He sang at the 1000th anniversary of Westminster Abbey in 1966, but says he was “nothing special as a singer, and I still can’t read music.”

“I think my only varsity letter came as the football team manager when I was in the 12th grade, and I spent most of the practices attempting field goals on an adjoining field,” Doughty said. “I played JV baseball in the 11th grade, when I was the starting pitcher in the opening game and never pitched again. Walked 12, if I remember correctly, and was totally baffled by the concept of throwing to first base. It has been a recurring nightmare over the years. I played golf as a senior, and while I currently can’t play a lick, I once got my handicap to 7 in my early 20s.”

Doughty still bowls in a weekly league, averaging in the mid-150s, and he played 15 summers of slowpitchsoftball, but his best sport is swimming – and as a 20-year competitor, he’s posted nationally respectable times in his age group. He also has served as a multiyear president of the Roanoke Valley Aquatic Association.

Doughty’s journalism career began in earnest in 1972-73 at UVa, when he became sports editor of The Cavalier Daily. In the fall of 1973, he began working part-time as a “stringer” covering high school sports for The Daily Progress. As a Virginia senior that fall, he covered the Cavaliers’ season-ending football game at West Virginia – the final game for then-Coach Don Lawrence. Doughty graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Doughty has a special connection to the Mountain State. His late father, Thomas, was born in Ronceverte, W.Va., and Doug “was a WVU sports fan all the way until I went to college,” he said. “Even in my first year at UVa, I kept a scrapbook with Mountaineer box scores I was able to find in newspapers. Jerry West was my all-time favorite basketball player.”

The recruiting coverage provided by Doughty was unique, and four decades ago it was an outgrowth of a Roanoke Times pet project of Bill Brill, the paper’s late executive sports editor and another Virginia Sports Hall of Famer.

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“Bill ranked the Top 25 football players in the state, as well as the top 40 men’s basketball players in the country,” Doughty said. “In the early 1980s, I volunteered to do a Second 25 in football and within 1-2 years, there were players on the Second 25 who belonged on the Top 25 and Brill turned the whole enterprise over to me.

“I continued the basketball Top 40s following Brill’s retirement in 1991 but eventually I didn’t feel that I had any advantage over the various services that had sprung up – rivals.com, scout.com, ESPN, 247Sports, etc.

“Nationwide football coverage of football recruiting has picked up as well, but I still think there’s a niche for the in-state recruiting rankings and I continue to receive considerable feedback in the days leading up to and following Christmas Day. I’d say that I’ve been doing the Top 25 (the project umbrella name) for approximately 35 years.”

A hip replacement in 2015 and successful prostate cancer surgery in 2017 haven’t slowed Doughty, and maybe a big part of the reason for that is his strong family support group.

Doug’s wife and fellow UVa graduate, Beth, is an award-winning professional in her own right as the Executive Director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. In 2016, she was named one of North America’s top 50 economic developers of 2016 by Consultant Connect after serving as the point person in recruiting three major companies promising jobs and multimillion dollar investments to the Roanoke Valley.

The Doughtys have four children … Allison, 35, is a chip off her dad’s sporting block, as Director of Events and Hospitality Services for the College Football Playoff (and a former ACC Director of Football Operations and Event Management); Carrie, 30, is a Technology Integration Specialist and teacher with Alexandria City Public Schools; Michael, 28, is a Vice President at Red Ventures, a Charlotte, N.C., marketing firm; and Matt, 22, is in his fourth year at UVa, where he is in the Batten School of Public Policy and was a pitcher on the aforementioned 2015 College World Series title team.

So, the “drive” to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame has been a busy and enjoyable one for Doughty.

“As much as I loved to play sports, I was never much of an athlete,” Doughty said. “What I might share with some of the inductees – and certainly not to their degree – is my competitiveness. Even to this day, there’s no better feeling than breaking a big story, although there are far fewer scoops nowadays, at least in printed newspapers.

“I take pride in not just being a beat reporter, or the UVa beat reporter, but covering highschool football for 45 years, including eight games this past season, and picking all-area teams in boys and girls swimming and lacrosse.”

Doughty also has written feature stories or profiles on 32 members of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, but it is his coverage of the Cavaliers’ program that has become the hallmark of his career. In those years, Doughty has seen plenty to write plenty about. What are his thoughts and opinions about the top Wahoo moments or events he has staffed?

“It’s been a while since UVa won its first ACC men’s basketball championship in 1976, but there I was in Landover, Md., writing the lead story for The Roanoke Times as a 23-year-old – less than two years into his employment,” Doughty said. “I wasn’t even the beat writer. Who would have thought it would be 38 years before UVa won a second ACC title and that I would cover that one as well?

“I would put the three weeks that Virginia spent atop the college football poll in 1990 as the most electric period in school athletic history. That was also the year that UVabeat Clemson for the first time in school history, ending a 29-game losing streak.I’ve still got a T-shirt and a mug with my game story imprinted on them – not of my choosing.

“Of course, the Sampson basketball years were unparalleled. I’ll never forget – and neither will he – the time he threw me into a swimming pool in Birmingham, Ala. …

“And for a non-UVa related memory, I’d say, out of the 40-50 PGA Tour events I covered, there was nothing to rival the 1986 Masters. It was Jack Nicklaus’ final victory in one of the majors and he became the oldest Masters winner. It included a 6-under-par 30 on the final nine holes. There was nothing like the roars echoing through the pines.”

See, there is little question Doughty has been anything but cavalier in a Hall of Fame sportswritingcareer.

Retired award-winning sportswriter and columnist Jack Bogaczyk is a 2017 inductee to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He spent more than 45 years in the sportswriting business, including 27 years at The Roanoke Times.

The 2018 Spotlight Series is presented by Dominion Energy. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame welcomes Dominion Energy as a proud partner for 2018 Induction Weekend.