FERRUM — Ferrum College officials said Tuesday that Abe Naff, the college’s Director of Athletics since 2004, is taking personal leave from his position.
But officials at Ferrum aren’t talking about the reason for the leave.
Naff oversees 21 sports that compete on the non-scholarship NCAA Division III level.
Officials aren’t saying whether Naff has stepped down, been replaced, still under contract or when and if he plans to return to the post.
“Abe is taking some time off like many of our faculty and staff do during the summer months,’’ said Wilson Paine, the college’s new vice president of institutional advancement.
“That’s all I can say and all I’m willing to say,’’ Paine said during an interview that lasted more than four minutes.
Paine repeated his statement when he was asked additional questions by a reporter from The Franklin News-Post. Efforts to reach him Wednesday for further comment were unsuccessful.
“If there is more to comment on, I will let you know,’’ said Paine adding that he would be the only college official to make further statements to the media on the matter and that no information would come from Ferrum’s Athletic Department.
“This is all that I can say now,’’ Paine said. “I’m not going to comment on whether (Abe) is still the Director of Athletics or any (other) speculation other than to say that he’s taking some time off.’’
Paine was named to his current post during the 2019 spring semester. He is a graduate of Ferrum, a former men’s tennis player, a past recipient of the college’s President’s Cup and one of the college’s seven Academic All-Americans.
A list of questions regarding Naff was submitted by email to Ferrum Assistant Athletic Director and Sports Information Director Gary Holden from the News-Post. Those questions were forwarded to Paine, who later called the paper to provide his statement.
Holden was quoted in a story on Naff taking a leave from his post that was published in Wednesday’s Roanoke Times.
As of press time Thursday, Naff’s biography and contact information have not been erased from Ferrum’s Athletic website nor has the college posted an opening for an athletic director.
The college does have openings for an assistant athletic trainer and an assistant women’s lacrosse coach and those openings have been posted.
Naff was hired in 1985 as Ferrum’s head baseball coach succeeding Rick Jones in the position.
He served as Ferrum’s baseball coach for 23 years and compiled a 643-236-3 career record.
During his tenure, Naff led the Panthers to 10 USA South Athletic Conference baseball championships, 10 NCAA Division III regional playoff appearances and a playoff berth in the junior college regionals in his first year as head coach, which was Ferrum’s final year of baseball affiliation with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
The Panthers were a seven-time regional runner-up during Naff’s coaching tenure.
Naff replaced Ted Kinder as Director of Athletics in 2004 and was head baseball coach and A.D. until his retirement from baseball in 2007.
Naff is a 1977 graduate of Franklin County and was the starting catcher for the Eagles’ Group AAA state runner-up squad that spring.
Naff is a 1981 graduate of Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) and had a four-year baseball career there as a catcher.
Two of Naff’s players, Eric Owens and Billy Wagner, had extended careers in the major leagues, and many others who played for Naff signed professional baseball contracts.
Naff is a member of college Sports Halls of Fame at Ferrum and Lynchburg and is enshrined in the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame and the USA South Hall of Fame.
Ferrum retired Naff’s jersey (No. 22) in 2008, his first year away from the diamond.
Franklin County’s baseball stadium at Benjamin Franklin Middle School is named in honor of Naff’s father.
Naff has served as athletic director under three Ferrum presidents.