Ex-Ferrum College AD Sues School in U.S. District Court

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An athletic director who believes he was wrongfully terminated has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer.

According to The Roanoke Times, former Ferrum College athletic director Abe Naff, 60, filed a lawsuit alleging that the NCAA Division III private university in Virginia “unjustly and unfairly terminated” his employment on June 28, 2019.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court and is seeking more than $4 million in damages, accuses Ferrum of violating the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, violating the Age Discrimination of Employment Act, retaliating against Naff in violation of Title IX, and breach of contract.

Naff, who was Ferrum’s athletic director for 15 years, alleges in the lawsuit that he told Ferrum president David Johns and other administrators that the school didn’t treat women’s sports equally.

“All of Mr. Naff’s requests for gender equity in the athletic department were rejected,” the lawsuit states, claiming that Title IX should have protected Naff from retaliation. “Naff’s objections to Ferrum College’s violations of Title IX were repeatedly ignored.”

Naff had filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Circuit Court in May. That lawsuit, which was seeking more than $9 million in damages, claimed defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

Related content: Fired AD Sues College, Claiming Emotional Distress

The original lawsuit said Naff, who also coached the Ferrum baseball team for 23 years until 2007, said that he has suffered from depression since losing his job.

“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, noting that Naff was diagnosed with prostate cancer while at Ferrum. “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."

In October, Franklin County circuit judge Stacey Moreau in October granted Ferrum’s motion to dismiss the original lawsuit. Naff’s lawyers filed an amended lawsuit Tuesday in Franklin County Court, seeking $30 million in damages while suing Ferrum for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

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