FERRUM — After a search lasing more than five months, Ferrum College has hired former Wheaton (Mass.) College Director of Athletics and Recreation John Sutyak as its new athletic director.
College officials confirmed Sutyak’s hiring to the campus community Thursday and to the public Friday.
Sutyak replaces Abe Naff, who was relieved of his duties as athletic director this summer. No reasons have been made public as to why ties were severed between Ferrum and Naff, a Franklin County native.
Naff served as the Panthers head baseball coach from 1985-2007 and as director of athletics from 2004-2019.
Naff filed a discrimination charge against the college with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in October with regards to his termination.
Sutyak resigned from his post in June, and Wheaton’s program has been led by an interim director of athletics since his departure.
Wheaton is conducting a national search for its next director of athletics, according to information from the college.
Sutyak begins in the position Jan. 1, 2020. On that date, he becomes Ferrum’s sixth director of athletics since 1985, the start of the college’s NCAA Division III athletics era.
Sutyak was expected to be on campus today, according to Gary Holden, Ferrum’s sports information director. Among his objectives was to look for housing, Holden said.
“I am extremely excited and humbled to be named director of athletics at Ferrum College. The moment I stepped foot on campus, I immediately felt at home and sensed that Ferrum is a very special place,” Sutyak said in a prepared statement.
“I am looking forward to working with student-athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff to continue the proud tradition of Ferrum College athletics. Our goal as a Division III institution will be to work toward providing all our student-athletes with a first-class experience, on and off the playing surface, while simultaneously striving to compete for conference championships,’’ Sutyak said.
College officials said a national search was conducted to fill the position.
Sutyak arrives at Ferrum with experience steeped in collegiate athletics, college officials said in the prepared statement.
Sutyak’s career began in a dual role as the assistant sports information director and area coordinator in residential life at Wheaton from July 2002 to August 2003.
Then Sutyak spent three years working in athletic facilities and varsity sports operations at Yale University before returning to Wheaton in July 2006 as the assistant director of athletics. He eventually became the associate director of athletics and assumed the role of director of athletics and recreation in April 2012.
“I am pleased that John Sutyak will be joining our leadership team at Ferrum College. Athletics has played an important role at the college for years, and we are all looking forward to the next chapter under John’s leadership,” Ferrum College President David Johns said.
“As a former Ferrum College athlete, I am thrilled to have someone with John’s broad experience and background as Ferrum’s next athletic director,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement and External Relations Wilson Paine., who served as the point-man in the search.
“John’s passion for college athletics and his commitment to supporting our student-athletes and coaches makes him the perfect fit to lead our athletics department and build on Ferrum’s rich history in athletics.’’
During his eight-year stint as Wheaton’s director of athletics, the college experienced significant growth of donors and contributions to Wheaton’s Lyons Athletic Club.
Also, Sutyak was also involved in the development and construction of the first artificial surface athletic field, a $3.8 million project.
During his tenure, Wheaton’s athletic teams qualified for 33 NCAA Division III championship events and won 16 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular-season and conference titles, highlighted by baseball’s run to the national championship game in 2012.
Wheaton’s women’s track and field team claimed four top-10 national finishes and Wheaton also captured regional championships in softball in 2015 and baseball in 2017.
Sutyak served six years on the NEWMAC Executive Committee, including a two-year term as president, and was the New England chair of the NCAA Division III Softball Committee from 2008 to 2012.
Outside of collegiate athletics, Sutyak has worked at Gillette Stadium during New England Patriots’ home games since 2002, working both with the Patriots’ media relations team and the National Football League on its player participation crew.
A native of Scarborough, Maine, Sutyak received his Bachelor of Arts in history from Wheaton in May 2000.
In 2002, Sutyak earned his master’s in athletic administration from Springfield College. During graduate school, he served as an assistant baseball coach at Western New England University during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, where he played a part in the team’s first Great Northwest Atlantic Conference (GNAC) championship and first NCAA tournament appearance in 2001.
At Scarborough High School, Sutyak was a two-sport athlete (baseball and basketball) and a finalist for the Maine Mr. Baseball Award in 1996.
A former four-year baseball player for the Wheaton Lyons, Sutyak was a member of the college’s first varsity baseball team in 1997, the program’s first two NEWMAC championship teams in 1999 and 2000, and a part of its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2000.
Sutyak also tied the NCAA record for home runs in one inning with two against the University of Southern Maine in 1998.