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Ohio State to Jonathan Waters: ‘It is time to move on’

Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said OSU should give him a chance to clear his name after being fired July 24. OSU has since denied his request. Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports directorCredit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former OSU Marching Band director Jonathan Waters said OSU should give him a chance to clear his name after being fired July 24. OSU has since denied his request.
Credit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports directorCredit: Aaron Yerian / Lantern TV Asst. sports director

Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters has asked the university to help him clear his name nearly a month after he was fired. An OSU spokesman, however, said the university will not entertain the idea.

In a two-page letter addressed to OSU counsel that was sent Wednesday, Waters’ attorney David Axelrod requested OSU facilitate a name-clearing hearing for Waters on university property. He asked for the university to provide a public venue for the event.

He also asked for university officials be made available as witnesses Waters could call during the event.

Axelrod said the U.S. Constitution makes OSU obligated to help clear Waters’ name after he was fired without a chance to defend himself. He referred to a court ruling that said a person’s reputation is among the liberty interests protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which says states cannot deny anyone “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The university, however, denied Axelrod’s request in statement released by OSU spokesman Chris Davey about two hours after Axelrod released his letter.

“We will not be revisiting this decision. It is closed, and it is time to move on,” Davey’s statement read.

Waters 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.

Even though some current and former band members have since come forward saying the final report is at odds with their experience, Davey said basic facts — including charges of sexual nicknames, rookie introductions and alcohol abuse, among others — “are not refuted by anyone.”

Axelrod said, however, OSU is only interested in hearing one side of the story.

“Ohio State has attacked and tarnished Jon’s reputation and all he asks for is an opportunity to respond and defend himself,” Axelrod told The Lantern shortly after Davey’s statement was released. “Apparently, OSU is not interested in fairness.”

Waters said in a Tuesday interview with The Lantern that he had not decided whether he’d sue OSU. Still, Axelrod said if and when Waters pursues legal action, Davey’s response will be part of the litigation.

“The university has acted in clear violation of Jon’s rights under the United States Constitution,” he said.

Both President Michael Drake and OSU Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth previously denied further consideration. If Waters does sue, however, Drake has said the university will be prepared.

The search process for a new director is currently under way. 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 selected.

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 sincerely hope that he sues the university and it gets messy. Perhaps then it will stop being run by children who have little interest in advancing anything but their own pocketbooks.

  2. So if the entire band situation has been so horrific over the past XX years, why not take issue with Jon Woods (in particular) by slashing his pension or levying some kind of ‘punishment?”

    Sounds silly I know but so is the firing of Waters based on a erroneous and lackluster report prepared by incompetent OSU staff.

    I was not a band member but as a proud OSU grad, the whole situation makes my stomach churn. Drake needs to man-up, admit he made a mistake and revisit his decision.

    Color me still disgusted.

  3. Hahahahaha, just go away, Mr. Waters . . . . . please?

    To John W, ditto!

  4. “Verbal abuse and intimidation will not be tolerated.” “Every single student.” So I suppose we can expect 75% of the varsity coaching staff is probably about to be terminated! Not to mention a lot of faculty/staff for berating student employees (I will remain anonymous because this did happen to me and I deserved it). As for a sexualized culture, seriously get rid of half of the student population, at least, if you want to fix that.

  5. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Check out the proven generous donor who completed his 5 million dollar gift to OSU and then told the university to stick it for anything more out of a 150 million dollar windfall. The chief fundraising officer gave some double talk to the press about how generous this certain donor was to OSU but he’s clenching his teeth and swallowing hard because that big fat bonus he had coming for completing this bazillion dollar capital campaign and going over goal just became doubtful. The only language the great OSU understands is MONEY…cash dollar on the barrel head.

  6. “We will not be revisiting this decision. It is closed, and it is time to move on,” Davey’s statement read”. Does this apply to all the the slandered students and alumni too? At least John has standing to sue, but 1,000’s of others damaged by tOSU do not.

  7. Buckeye in the West

    OSU’s statement today is tantamount to a person covering their ears, singing “la la la” and yelling “I can’t hear you”. The lack of professionalism, from OSU, through this thing has been stunning. Something certainly unexpected at one of the top research universities in the country.

    What did Jon Waters ask for today? The right, as a state employee, or any person, to have due process under the laws of the State of Ohio and the United States. He wants to face his accusers, in an open forum, and have it witnessed. He wants to have his accusers to justify teh contents of the so called “investigative report”. He is offering OSU the opportunity to prove their justification of terminating himself and the justification of defaming current and former members of the OSUMB, and member s of the OSU community. He wants to have a neutral arbitrator to oversee the proceedings.

    Right to work does not mean an employee has absolutely no rights. Fortunately, there are laws, in place, that limit “right to work” when such a law is abused; as it was in this case.

    So, OSU’s answer could be seen as either, they are 100% correct or OSU is very afraid. Afraid that the so called “investigative report”, its authors, the compliance office, the Board of Trustees, President Drake, and power brokers, in the Colleges and Arts and Sciences will not only shows how poorly this whole situation was handled, but it will bring the open up the OSU ivory tower for the world to see.

    Since 23 July, those who have been paying attention, have seen what OSU did was a miscarriage of justice. Jon Waters is giving OSU one more chance, before a law suit is filed. A law suit that will peer through the ivory tower of the OSU Administration and expose it for what it is. A money grubbing, inept, self serving bunch of people who only care about protecting their various fiefdoms. The embedded culture of the OSU administration which goes back as far as the so called culture of the band; if not further.

    In either case, the OSU administration is heading for a rude awakening. They thought fire the band director, release a report that is so critical, that no one would question it and move on. The problem is, that they did not expect the report to be refuted, and thousands of people seeking justice. There is no political spin left for OSU, except run away. This is where we are today. We can add cowards to the others adjectives listed in the previous paragraph.

  8. Someone should read “Public Relations For Dummies” before they are allowed to put out their next press release.

    Maybe a trip to “Intro to Public Relations”

  9. Buckeye in the West

    I will like to add, Lantern reporters keep digging. Keep unturning the slimy rocks the administration is hiding under. Your reporters have great access the other media can never have. And resist any attempt, by the administration, to censure your publication. There is great opportunity here to get to the truth and bring down the OSU ivory tower. Remember there are thousands of OSU students and alumni standing behind you.

  10. OSU is starting to act like the place where I’ve worked for the last 40 years: the University of Michigan. I really hope you Buckeyes (and my son is an alum) don’t start sinking there.

  11. No university in the world would agree to this type of request. OSU seems pretty set on the course it has chosen. Only a court of law is going to compell any action or change to the situation.

  12. Note to alumni and employees. If we let this abusive conduct by this new crew of goons in charge succeed in getting their way, we are no better than them. They depend on us tucking our tails between our legs and sulking away. Stand up to these bullies and beat them! Whistleblower, quit being such cowards and come forward. These nasties posting on this site are nothing but hired goons themselves. Pay no mind to their gloating. They don’t know Jon Waters from a hole in the ground.

  13. Also, don’t take the “file a lawsuit” bait. That’s what the goons and their handlers want. The. They have an excuse not to say any more on the subject…..”cannot comment on a current lawsuit.”

  14. I will have to give kudos to The Lantern, NBC4i, and 10TV for not letting this rest. There is something that the University doesn’t want uncovered here.

    If they stand behind the report and their actions, then they shouldn’t have any issue defending their position. If it is found to be a righteous report and action against Jon Waters, then he (Waters) needs to let it rest. You’d think the admin would want to answer questions if the report was good, that the deeper Waters digs the more he buries himself.

    If there was this issue of sexualized culture and it is proven, then I don’t know why Jon Woods isn’t being pulled in either. This “culture” didn’t start with Waters. If there is this proven “culture”, then where are the reports of multiple squad leaders/band members being released from the University for violation of the student code of conduct?

    Something strange is afoot at the Circle K.

  15. The University twists the words of students to use against them. The same students the University claims to protect?

  16. The only reputation that has been tarnished here is Ohio State’s. Where an investigation is necessary is in to the hiring of Drake as president. One thing I do agree with, it is time to move on: pack your bags Drake and do the moving.

  17. I am happy to see that the Jonathan Waters issue is not dead and those of us who support Jon continue to push for his reinstatement. Drake, Wadsworth, and their thugs have proven their incompetence in this issue by standing firm in their flawed decision. To Mr. Davey, it is not time to ‘move on’ but rather it is time to do what is right and reinstate Jon Waters. It is just over a week until our first home game. To Ohio State faithful and supporters of Jon Waters, let’s show the world at that game that we support the work that Jon has done to promote TBDBITL in making our band world class. I bleed Scarlet and Grey and am truly embarrassed and disappointed in Drake, Wadsworth, and the rest of the Trustees.

  18. Keep on the pressure, Lantern, until we have competent professionals
    running the University. This group cares little about more than their
    tremendously inflated salaries. Too bad Drake and others can’t be
    sued individually. Hope Jon Waters needs a tank to carry his $$$

  19. Yeah, sure..........

    Verbal abuse and intimidation will not be tolerated……but tOSU called THIRTY Squad leaders and Assistant Squad Leaders LIARS and that is OK? The university has defamed not only Jon Waters but thousands fo band members and alumni. They want lawsuits? I hope they get THOUSANDS of them. And they will not get another dime of MY money to fight them.

    This whole debacle is being driven by politics and has absolutely nothing to do with “sexualized culture” (whatever the heck that is since tOSU doesn’t seem to know). I hope Drake doesn’t show up for alumni day because the alumni band is liable to march right over him.

  20. Any teacher or coach who is present at and has authority over an event on school property in which students are only in their underwear should be fired. It all seems pretty simple to me. Move on.

  21. Anonymous:
    Current band just finished three a day outdoor
    Practices in 90+ heat. Guess what they were
    wearing? Basically their underwear.

  22. ChallengeTheBand

    I challenge the current band members that support Jon Waters to prove their support by NOT marching in this Saturday’s game against Navy. Stick to your convictions. Otherwise, let it go.

  23. Jonathan Picking

    Anonymous – you are aware, of course, that Drake was happy to allow “undie runs” at UCI. If it is truly so problematic for adults to individually choose to wear something that is legally within their rights, then he should never have been hired.

  24. Insteads of Script Ohio, the should do a ‘JW’

  25. ChallengeTheBand says:
    August 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    “I challenge the current band members that support Jon Waters to prove their support by NOT marching in this Saturday’s game against Navy. Stick to your convictions. Otherwise, let it go.”

    Sticking to your convictions means keeping the pressure on the BoT and on Drake. It means continually offering the administration an easy out (i.e hold the state-mandated name clearing hearing, post the actual interview transcripts implicating Waters, just simply re-instate Waters and avoid lawsuits you’re doomed to lose, etc.), so Waters’ defense has numerous examples of bad-faith conduct on the part of the administration. And finally, it means suing the pants off the administration and exposing their incompetence and their malicious stubbornness.

    As far as current band members protesting…. Marching in the band is not an act that implies support of the administration – it’s an act that implies support of one of the nation’s most storied musical institutions.

    The squad leaders of the current band have made it very clear where they stand on this issue, and the administration tried to twist their unambiguous words into a bald-faced lie. It’s truly depressing the lengths the administration has gone to try to discredit Waters. Good thing they’re as incompetent at that as they were on the original investigation.

  26. Anonymous – “Any teacher or coach who is present at and has authority over an event on school property in which students are only in their underwear should be fired. It all seems pretty simple to me. Move on.”

    Fine, then Drake should be gone because he tolerated the Underwear Run at UC Irvine while he was President. Sauce for the goose. . . .

  27. If Drake tolerated the Underwear Run at UC Irvine while serving as President, then clearly he should not have been hired and he needs to “pack his bags” and exit OSU. Drake has destroyed the PR Waters was so good at developing for Ohio State. What better way to bring OSU’s attention to prospective high school seniors than through You Tube videos of TBDBITL performances; performances that no other university band can duplicate. As an OSU alumnus [64], I am ashamed at the manner in which the administration has handled this entire situation. No more money from me until Waters is re-instated.

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