Ferrum athletic director Abe Naff, shown at a 2007 Ferrum baseball practice during his final season as the Panthers’ baseball coach, is on a personal leave of absence.

Abe Naff, who has served as Ferrum College’s athletic director for the past 15 years, is on leave.

And school officials are not saying when or if he will return to his job.

Ferrum assistant athletic director and sports information director Gary Holden said Tuesday in a phone interview that Naff is “taking some personal leave.”

Is Naff okay?

“Yes,” Holden said.

Could the leave be permanent or is he expected back at some point?

“I don’t have an answer for you,” Holden said. “Personal issues, you can never have comment on those.”

Three Ferrum athletic department employees who asked to remain anonymous said they received an email last week stating that Naff had gone on a personal leave of absence.

The employees said they did not know when or if Naff would be back. The email they received did not give a timeline for Naff’s possible return.

Is Naff ever coming back to his job?

“Abe, like many of our faculty and staff, is taking some time off in the summer months,” Ferrum vice president for institutional advancement Wilson Paine replied in an interview.

So if he is just on summer vacation, when will he be back as athletic director?

“I didn’t say that he was on vacation,” Paine said. “I said Abe is taking some time off this summer.”

When asked why Naff is taking time off if he is not on vacation, Paine referred back to his original comment.

When asked if Naff will still be the athletic director on Sept. 1, Paine again stuck with his original comment.

Has Naff been fired?

“I’m not going to answer that question,” Paine said.

Naff and Ferrum President David Johns could not be reached for comment.

Holden is in charge of the athletic department in Naff’s absence.

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

Naff, 59, 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 won 643 baseball games and steered the Panthers to 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.

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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