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Interim OSU marching band director appointments a ‘temporary solution,’ says a former director

Dr. Paul Droste was the director of the Ohio State Marching Band from 1970 to 1983. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Dr. Paul Droste was the director of the Ohio State Marching Band from 1970 to 1983.
Credit: Courtesy of OSU

A former director of the Ohio State Marching Band said appointing interim directors to the band is only a “temporary solution to the problems at hand” following the firing of former head director Jonathan Waters in late July and the naming of two interim directors Monday.

Paul Droste, who served as the band’s head director from 1970 to 1983, said he ultimately wants to see Waters reinstated. He said he sees no point in appointing other people to do what should still be Waters’ job.

Waters was fired after a 23-page report from a two-month investigation determined the band’s culture was “an environment conducive to sexual harassment,” according to a released statement from President Michael Drake in July. It concluded that Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of, the “sexual” culture, but didn’t do enough to address it or prevent it from happening.

OSU named two interim directors in a Monday release, after remaining mostly silent following the initial news of Waters’ termination.

University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones were named to temporarily lead the band until a permanent director is chosen.

If OSU won’t let Waters lead the band, Droste said he is confident Mikkelson and Jones are the right people for the job.

“I think the band will be very well-served by these interims,” Droste said in an interview with The Lantern. “I know each of these people very well — they are good, positive people. If Waters is not involved, then they’ll get us through the year, but this is not the solution.”

Droste, who is also a member of the TBDBITL Alumni Club, said club leaders were asked to attend an official university meeting to select interim band leadership last week. Droste said he was unable to attend because of a funeral.

He referred The Lantern to club president, Brian Golden, for comment.

Golden did not respond to a phone call Wednesday night.

Monday’s announcement regarding the appointment of interim directors came less than a week after Golden met with Drake and Alumni Relations senior vice president and President and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association Archie Griffin, Droste said.

Only Golden was able to meet with Drake and Griffin, even though Droste and others from the club showed up, Droste said.

Although he didn’t have specifics about the meeting, Droste said Golden gave Drake a statement on behalf of the club that called for Waters’ reinstatement.

“Brian also gave (Drake) a copy of the 135-year history of the marching band, our Script Ohio book, which if the president will take time to read it and not just look at the pictures, this would be a great instruction as to the history of the band. And of course as a new president he’s not going to be up on that,” Droste said.

Besides lobbying for Waters’ reinstatement, Droste said the club believes the investigation that lead to Waters’ termination was not completely thorough. He said he wished he would have been part of it due to his extensive knowledge of OSU Marching Band history.

“Some of the alumni of the band call me the historian of the band. It’s a very informal title,” Droste said. “I have a lot to do with the re-writing of the 135-year history, and if you want to go back into the ‘50s and the ‘60s and the ‘70s, I think my memory is pretty good at this point. And that’s one of the reasons I was disappointed I wasn’t part of the investigation, because they talked about the culture of the band through the decades, and I don’t think they asked anybody from the ‘50s or ‘60s or back then what it was like.”

Droste, who was director when women were first allowed in the band in 1973, said it’s much harder to be the band’s director today, mainly because of the extensive amount of university oversight.

“I don’t think the term ‘zero-tolerance’ existed back in the ‘70s. We’re in a changing society — nobody wants to go back to the ‘70s or the ‘60s — we’re beyond that,” Droste said. “But yet, some things that were perhaps marginal in those days are strictly forbidden today.”

Even so, Droste said if Waters were reinstated, he should receive additional monitoring and help dealing with such a large band.

“In one of my TV interviews, I suggested that if Jon Waters comes back then he be tightly monitored — that there be people looking over his shoulder at all times,” Droste said. “He has a small staff and over 200 people to manage.”

Looking ahead, OSU said it will begin the search process for a permanent director in a released statement last week.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis did not provide details regarding this search process, including a possible budget and timeframe, after multiple attempts. Requests for employment records and salary information for Waters and other directors have not been fulfilled either. Lewis did however respond Wednesday evening with the release regarding the naming of the interim directors.

Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery has been appointed to lead a task force that will further review the band’s culture, according to an OSU statement issued in July.

The task force will include representatives from Ernst & Young, which is set to conduct an investigatory review, the Sports Conflict Institute, which will conduct a separate independent review and “outside counsel” that will guide the task force on Title IX compliance.

Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that aims to protect against discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal funding.



Correction: Aug. 5, 2014

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated when Jonathan Waters was fired.



  1. The worst problem is one didn’t need to be.Mr Waters:wasn’t given due process….didn’t have a PhD at his hiring,which was a source of irritation for Provost Steinmetz and President of the Board of Trustees Wadsworth.Now both are stating they are standing behind the original dumb decision.Everyone needs to watch the second investigation lead by Betty Montgomery.It will hopefully provide wiggle room room for the people who started this mess.

  2. The PC police are on the march (goose-step?). After all, THEY know more than anyone what is sexist, racist, and ist. The PC police speak for everybody. They have bestowed that power upon themselves. Who cares about silly things like petitions, national recognition, or majority votes. They know what is best for people, especially for other adults. They know how to make people act in conformance with PC police policies. As for due process? Hah! That is not in THEIR constitution, just ours. After all, in the PC world, the only thing needed is a one-sided report and/or mere accusations.

    I hope that these interim band leaders will be able to bob and weave around the PC police, especially if another little darling runs to mommy after her feelings get hurt when someone calls her a poo-poo head on the playground. And I will assume that these candidates are properly trained at objective #1: covering the backside of the university president at all costs. We would not want him to lose his grossly overpaid salary, mansion quarters, and status in the community that he thinks he deserves. Hopefully the president can now focus on things that really matter, say, like the cost of tuition and overpaid administrators/bureaucrats throughout the university.

    See you at the barricade.

  3. President Drake is nothing more than a yellow-bellied coward. If the report is so correct in its assertions, then by God, step forward and defend it. But he sits in silence…. and refuses to make a comment.

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