Fired AD Sues College, Claiming Emotional Distress | Athletic Business

Fired AD Sues College, Claiming Emotional Distress

Former athletic director and baseball coach Abe Naff is suing Ferrum (Va.) College for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. He is seeking more than $9 million in damages.

The lawsuit, announced Friday, states that since losing his job, Naff has suffered from depression and “had thoughts of ending his own life.”

As reported by The Roanoke Times, Naff spent 15 years as the school’s athletic director. According to the lawsuit, “his employment was unjustly and unfairly terminated on June 28, 2019.”

He spent 23 years as Ferrum’s baseball coach, winning 643 games through the 2007 season. He did double duty as the athletic director for his final four years as coach. As athletic director, he had hired every one of Ferrum’s head coaches at the time of his firing. He also helped Ferrum pull off a change in conference affiliation.

According to the lawsuit, Naff was diagnosed with prostate cancer during his time at Ferrum. The lawsuit states that the college terminated Naff’s health insurance after he was fired, “knowing that Mr. Naff suffered from prostate cancer and would need medical treatment.”

“With the loss of not only his job, but what was a large part of his identity, Mr. Naff was devastated and fell into a deep depression,” the lawsuit states. “Unable to manage the insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression on his own, Mr. Naff sought medical attention and mental health counseling in August 2019. Furthermore, his prostate problems worsened as a result of the termination.

“He has continued with this medical treatment and mental health counseling, as he has struggled to work through the depression, insomnia, crying spells, anger, fear, stress, lack of pleasure and enjoyment in activities, worsened prostate problems and dramatic weight changes he experienced as a direct result of Ferrum College’s actions."

Ferrum College president David Johns and board of trustees members Judson Mason and George Yancey met with Naff on June 12, 2019, according to the lawsuit. Naff was told that “Ferrum was going in a different direction” and that his employment would be officially terminated in the near future, according to the lawsuit. He was told he was being placed on administrative leave for 21 days “while he considered certain terms of his severance.”

Johns told Naff that the college would say only during the 21-day period that Naff was out on leave, according to the lawsuit, which claims the college failed to follow through on that assurance.

“Ferrum College vigorously denies any wrongdoing towards Mr. Naff,” Ferrum vice president for institutional advancement Wilson Paine told The Roanoke Times in an email Friday. “Ferrum has not seen the lawsuit and does not intend to try this case through the media.”

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