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Jonathan Waters still vying to get his Ohio State job back

Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said Tuesday he still wants his job back. Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said Tuesday he still wants his job back.
Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll sue OSU during a Tuesday interview with The Lantern.

He was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation into the band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it.

His attorney David Axelrod said Waters has acknowledged that he needs to start looking for a new job, but said he hasn’t started yet because he wants his position at OSU back.

Since his termination, many OSU Marching Band members, alumni and others have showed support for the ousted director with numerous letters to the editor, letters to university administration and rallies, among other things. Most call for Waters’ reinstatement.

The student squad leadership of the band from 2012 and 2013 released a statement Tuesday through Axelrod’s office that called the report’s findings “false and misleading” and said the investigation was “severely flawed.”

Another display of support for Waters surfaced Tuesday when a 10-page document of Waters’ attempts to change the band culture was found on the marching band alumni club website. One instance in the report describes how Waters looked down upon mistreatment of new band members.

“We could not publicly (or in front of Jon Waters or any staff) refer to first-year band members as ‘rookies.’ We were required to refer to them as first-years in order to reinforce equality among ranks. Jon stressed that even a reference such as first-years was a form of hazing, and not something that was supported by the OSUMB,” it reads.

Waters said Tuesday afternoon he hadn’t read that report and couldn’t provide direct comment on it. “Without reading it, I’m sure I stand by what they’re saying,” Waters said.

Although Waters has asked the university for his job back, both President Michael Drake and OSU Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth denied further consideration. If Waters does sue, however, Drake has said the university will be prepared.

Recently, the former OSU Title IX coordinator came out saying the band culture investigation could have been avoided if the Office of Compliance and Integrity had allowed her to intervene sooner. Before his dismissal, Waters said his interaction with the office was “minimal” with little guidance.

“If I wanted training for the band, I sought it. If I wanted training for the leaders, I sought it. If I wanted to know who to report an issue to, I sought it. No one from compliance taught me how to do these things,” Waters said. “We were left to fend for ourselves with the rules and regulations the compliance office had.”

The search process for a new director is currently underway. A search committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni will look for a new director, with that individual expected to be named within four to six months. In the meantime, OSU named two interim directors for the 2014-15 season. University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones will lead the band until a permanent director is chosen.

But for Waters, life isn’t the same without his former students. “I know that every day that goes by, I miss them more and more,” he said.

Currently, a second investigation into the band’s culture is also under way.

That investigation, which is planned to be completed by early October, is being led by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and is reporting to Drake and the Board. It will assess the band culture, review OSU administrative processes and oversight and counsel the university on Title IX compliance issues. 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.


  1. I do not know the facts of the case, nobody really completly does. I just hope that he isnt being used as a scapegoat to avoid the hefty fines that can be levied by the Dept of Civil Rights within the DOE. If the administrators have taken a “liability” approach to making decisions on this case, it will have been a very bad day for the OSUMB program and once again, shows the lack of integrity among leadership to simply do the right thing and stand up for its own.

  2. Yeah, sure..........

    This has very little to do with “sexualized culture” (whatever the heck THAT is, so far no one has attempted to explain it) and much more to do with POLITICS.
    Certain people were not happy that the School of Music didn’t have enough say in Jon Waters being hired as OSUMB Director and now, glory be……….they are the ones in charge.

    tOSU has been under investigation since 2010 under Title IX for not doing enough about sexual assaults, so I guess they thought they could make themselves look good by coming to a conclusion, supported by the current band leadership (so called professional, NOT students), dump Waters and everyone would say good job. NOT.
    Drake says tOSU is prepared fro any litigation. Well I hope so, because better people that me have reviewed the so called investigation and report, including a former Title IX coordinator, and said they have serious flaws. Drake may be ready to fight, but he won’t do it with my money…..tOSU will never get another dime from me unless they make this right, for Jon Waters and ALL the band members and alumni that they smeared.

  3. I wonder what an exceptable number is for those who feel harassed in the band. I guess just as long as there are enough individuals to express the fact that they didn’t feel harassed, the few who did don’t really matter. I am deeply saddened at the outcry for one man, who I have yet to hear put in place formal policy to stop the activities and who cares more about getting his job back, and not the students who felt betrayed and made to feel like being a victim is their fault. I don’t care if one person was harassed, that is too many. Those of you who disagree, what should that number be?

  4. Well, John if there was/is harassment, then why haven’t those harassors been identified and expelled? The report took events from prior to waters’ tenure gathered from people with an unrelated axe to grind and they went first to the nuclear option. It makes no sense.

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