Naff

Abe Naff, shown at a 2007 Ferrum baseball practice during his final season as coach, served as athletic director for 15 years. A news release said he was fired on June 28.

Former Ferrum College athletic director Abe Naff has filed a discrimination complaint against the college with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The complaint was announced by Naff’s lawyers, John Fishwick Jr. and Carrol Ching, in a news release Wednesday.

The press release stated that Naff was fired by Ferrum on June 28 at the age of 59.

Once the EEOC investigation is completed, Naff will file a lawsuit for unlawful discrimination in federal court “if necessary,” according to the news release.

The EEOC is a federal agency.

The news release did not specify who the complaint was filed against, but Fishwick confirmed in a follow-up email exchange with The Roanoke Times that the complaint was filed against the college.

The press release did not specify the grounds for the complaint; Fishwick would not confirm that the complaint alleges age discrimination.

Fishwick declined further comment.

Naff spent 15 years as the school’s athletic director. Neither Naff nor Ferrum had previously said whether Naff’s summertime exit from Ferrum was because he was fired or because he had resigned.

Ferrum had sent an internal email in June stating that Naff had gone on a personal leave of absence.

A week after that internal email was sent, Ferrum sports information director Gary Holden said in a June 25 interview with The Roanoke Times that Naff was “taking some personal leave.”

The interview took place three days before the date Naff’s lawyers gave for his firing.

Ferrum sent an email to faculty and staff members in July thanking Naff for his service and announcing that the college would be looking for a new athletic director. Holden was named acting athletic director in that email.

Naff spent 23 years as Ferrum’s baseball coach before stepping down after the 2007 season. He did double duty as the athletic director for his final four years as coach.

He led the baseball team to 643 wins and 10 NCAA Division III tournament berths.

Billy Wagner and Eric Owens both played for Naff at Ferrum before eventually making the major leagues.

Naff is a member of the Ferrum hall of fame and the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame.

As athletic director, he hired every one of Ferrum’s current head coaches.

He also helped Ferrum pull off a change in conference affiliation.

Ferrum left the USA South last year to join the ODAC, achieving a goal of both Naff and the college.

Naff did not return a phone message Wednesday.

Fishwick had said in an email that Naff would have no comment.

Holden, Ferrum President David Johns and Ferrum vice president for institutional advancement Wilson Paine did not return phone messages Wednesday.

Johns had declined an interview request in August.

“He has stated that we are continuing to honor Mr. Naff’s request to not comment about him to the press,” Johns’ executive assistant, Felicia Woods, said in an August email.

Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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