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Jonathan Waters to march with alumni band at Ohio State game

Then-OSU Marching Band director Jon Waters conducts a concert at Veteran Memorial Auditorium Nov. 10. Credit: Lantern file photo

Then-OSU Marching Band director Jon Waters conducts a concert at Veteran Memorial Auditorium Nov. 10.
Credit: Lantern file photo

Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters plans to perform with the alumni band during Saturday’s home Ohio State game against Kent State.

A source with knowledge of the situation said Waters will march with the alumni band into the stadium and during pregame. He will also sit with the alumni band during the first half of the game and might direct them during a few songs. He will not, however, attend Skull Session — the pregame pep rally the marching band holds before each home game.

OSU spokesman Chris Davey referred questions about the alumni band’s scheduled performance to the TBDBITL Alumni Club on Thursday.

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.

Since his dismissal, Waters and his attorney have made multiple public appearances and submitted a letter asking for OSU to consider rehiring him. OSU President Michael Drake and the Board of Trustees, however, have declined to reconsider his case.

The university plans on naming a new director by February and has named University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones as interim directors until a permanent director is selected.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced it will enter into an agreement with OSU to ensure proper Title IX obedience, after a compliance review of the university was concluded, according to a Thursday release.

In a release, the OCR agreed with the university that a “sexually hostile environment” within the band violated Title IX, and praised the university for its handling of the situation.

Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 which says schools that receive federal funding can’t discriminate based on sex.

OSU was one of 55 U.S. colleges and universities being investigated by the department for its handling of sexual abuse complaints under Title IX. The review began in 2010 and was not complaint-based, the release said.


  1. Great news!!! I look forward to marching with him again! An outstanding buckeye, one I’m proud to call a friend.

  2. Given that he’s provided two decades of outstanding service to the university, and has literally done more to serve and protect and build into students than most of the faculty and administration ever will, I’d say it’s an honor for us to have the opportunity to march with him and that the OSU administration does not deserve someone of such high character.

    President Drake continues to publicly praise the band and current students — a view that is incompatible with his firm statements of “standing behind” the Glaros report which accuses these very same students of being so caustic as to facilitate sexual assault. The band earning this praise is largely composed of students who were led by Jon Waters (including those new members who attended summer practices). Furthermore, his input is all over the show design.

  3. I will be honored to march with Jon Waters.
    Jon is the solution not the problem. Now he’s the scapegoat for an administration that is an embarrassment to the university that we love.

  4. Awesome. Wish I were an alum of TBDBITL or going to the game!

  5. It will be an honor to march with Jon Waters this weekend. Our Honor Defend…especially Jon’s!

  6. It will be a thrill to see him doing what he is supposed to be doing……leading TBDBITL. Shame on the university for removing this fine man from the position of director. He recieved a wonderful evaluation and then was fired. He WAS changing the culture! It’s right there in writing in the evaluation!

  7. Awesome! I’d love to have my kids in band with Jon. I wouldn’t want them anywhere near drake and his political cronies.

  8. This man has no business marching with the Alumni Band!
    He should be on the ladder directing THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MARCHING BAND!

  9. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Thank you Logan Hickman for reporting on this story. When you you graduate for tOSU you will enter the work force and someone will evaluate you and your performance. I pray that you and thousands of fellow OSU alumni who walk with you at your commencement will be given DUE PROCESS, if, God forbid, you have a poor performance review and mistrust make amends to your supervisor. Jon was never granted that chance. He was summarily dismissed and wished away by arrogant administrators and trustees. What an epic disgrace this process was that played out for this fine leader of TBDBITL. Logan please don’t give up on this story.

  10. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Sorry for the typos. I can’t go back and correct them. Kind of like working for the OSU administration and board of trustees.

  11. “In their report, the OCR agreed with the university that a “sexually hostile environment” within the band violated Title IX.”

  12. Buckeye in the West

    This is great news. I hope very subtle hints are presented Saturday.

    As the game is on BTN, and BTN sometimes shows pre-game and part of half-time; it could prove interesting.

    I hope the Alumni Band spells out “JON” and play the Superman Fanfare. And each band alumnus is marching with a “We Stand with Jon Waters” signed taped on their backs.

    Jon Waters was railroaded and OSUs announcemen of a clean bill of health from the Department of Education only confirms, even more, that OSU needed a sacrificial lamb.

  13. “In their report, the OCR agreed with the university that a “sexually hostile environment” within the band violated Title IX.” The OCR only agreed that what was presented in the report at the end violated Title IX. The OCR didn’t look at the report, how it was prepared, the lack of facts in the report,or that the report was even questioned by many of the witnesses it used as examples. OSU was found to not be properly addressing putting policies in place to address Title IX, and not dealing with reported assaults. It seems a little odd to me that ONLY the band and it’s Director were made to pay the price for OSU’s policy failures. Being the Scapegoat is a Hhorrible price to pay for an honorable, honest, talented man and the wonderful students he led. I feel OSU felt the Director and the band were expendable as opposed to having their Sports teams torn apart. That is the REAL crime!

  14. Sports are Gene Smith’s cash cow. He makes a fortune off the “amateur” athletes. You would never want to endanger your source of income!

  15. We demand justice! Reinstate the raspberry vinaigrette!

  16. I’m so glad Jon will be marching!! He is an incredible person not to mention an outstanding musician! His presence will make our performances as fellow musicians that much better!

  17. So, which OSU employee will they throw under the bus next. What happens when this ends up in court and corruption is found? Which administrators and/or board members are prosecuted? If you are any of the above, maybe you need to think hard about your future? My daughter has been with the band for the last 4 years and I assure you the Glaros report is dead wrong. My wife and I have felt that our daughter was much safe on a huge campus because of being with the band. They lookout for each other and have become a second family. She has never witnessed anything that they are all being accused of. Jon Waters is a extremely hard working, kind, generous, family man whose name was ruined by Ohio State.
    Joe Krocker
    Tuscarawas, Ohio

  18. The DoE, in lauding OSU for trashing the Band, never actually read or evaluated the piece of garbage that we all know and love as the Glaros Report. Had they done so their response would not have been so favorable. The fact remains that of all the litany of incompetent and ineffective practices that Ohio State had in place, and for which the DoE cited them in the first place, not one had anything to do with the Band. The Band was thrown in later as a convenient way for the University to make a showy splash of seeming to be pro-active, and in doing so they destroyed the career of someone actively working (clearly without any competent support from OSU) for positive change, and smeared the reputation of all the Band members, who work so hard to represent Ohio State so well. Then there are the alumni, also now tainted by the University’s callous disregard for facts and the truth. The release of this DoE report only serves to confirm what anyone with a functioning brain already knew – this was just a cheap publicity stunt by the administration and Trustees, for which the University will end up paying dearly for years to come.

  19. I’m ashamed I went to grad school at OSU. I was disappointed with the way they handled their organization then, and I’m just as disappointed now. This is ridiculous. It’s obvious people higher up knew about this. They fired him to cover their own transgressions. The administration is pitiful and only getting worse.

  20. i WISH Jon would instead be directing TBDBITL, but —past that…I’m thrilled to get to march with Jon AGAIN! We marched together in TBDBITL back in 97-99. Jon’s an amazing man, with character & integrity & an incredible passion for students/people & also excellence.

  21. Hopefully the spectators give him a ridiculously long, standing ovation.

  22. Keep up the courageous coverage of this injustice by “our” university! Jon Waters, the current band, and thousands of alumni have been thrown under a very dangerous bus that is careening out if control! In the ’70s I saw Title IX as a “friend” that opened the door to opportunity for me to tryout and and be a part of TBDBITL for four years. I never imagined it would become a hammer of INJUSTICE! We stand with Jon!

  23. Given the current scandals in the NFL, letting a guy who was let go for condoning an atmosphere of sexual harassment participate in this is one bonehead move. Just one more issue to underline that women just don’t count when it comes to sports and sports-related activities. Get fired, still perform at halftime. Stunning.

  24. “two decades of outstanding service” fans are blind, that’s why they are fans. You know who everyone also ringed around to complain and support and say this guy is our guy until we die? Joe Paterno, when he got in trouble for sheltering his buddy who was raping kids in the showers. But Joe Joe Joe and Oh, the Injustice, and yadda yadda. Sounded a lot like this thread.

  25. Excellent news. Thanks for the reporting, Lantern.

  26. The game is actually on ABC, not BTN.

  27. Wow Gretchen, I can only hope you weren’t quite awake when you wrote that. This is not about the sexual assult of young children. This is about the crude behavior of young adults. There is a BIG difference.

  28. I look forward to standing and cheering for Jon when he enters the stadium. He has built the band into a World Class organization only to be be brought down by Drake, who came from a school that has no football team or marching band. Drake should be impeached for his pathetic decision making capability.

  29. Sure wish I had tickets to the game! #IStand WithJonWaters

  30. This guy must be a Klingon!
    Let it go and move on.

  31. Buckeye in the West

    I stand corrected, depending on where you live tomorrow’s game is on ABC or ESPN.

    Unfortunate, as only those at the game will see the performance.

    Another reason to stand and cheer loud tomorrow for those who cannot attend.

    #IStand WithJonWaters

  32. Gretchen, you’ll note that there is literally NO evidence to support your claim that Jon “condoned an atmosphere of sexual harassment.” First of all, Jon absolutely did not condone anything remotely resembling sexual harassment or assault. The individuals who alleged assault were actually comfortable enough with Jon that they went straight to him, and he reported the incidents immediately. This is all in the university’s own farce of a report.

    As for sexual harassment, the report presents no evidence that any sexual harassment occurred. There are occasional incidents of sexual humor, which largely occurred before Jon was ever director and at off-campus gatherings. The best the report can do is accuse the band of having a “sexualized” culture, which is meaningless. Culture itself is sexualized. No harassment has occurred and if it did it certainly wasn’t condoned by Jon, who worked to inspire students to be exemplary even when they weren’t under his direct supervision.

    Were you in the band? Close to any members? Do you know Jon Waters? Were you privy to any details other than the twisted “facts” OSU has presented for you to lap up like a good little puppy? Consider the foundation upon which you have formed your opinion. Do you desire truth? Or do you just enjoy righteous posturing? If you are interested in learning what the band was actually like, thousands of us would love to buy you a beer and tell you about our experiences. Otherwise, kindly remove yourself from the discussion of this issue.

  33. Gretchen is making perfect sense. Unless you hold a position with the DoE or OSU of someone charged with making such decisions, then you should kindly remove yourself from the discussion. How presumptive to state the report was never read by the DoE prior to the endorsement of OSU’s decision. You reference “occasional incidents of sexual humor”. Sexual humor in the workplace or educational setting IS sexual harassment. Waters stated in the report that 50% of the nicknames were inappropriate or sexual in nature. Though many have defended their nicknames as being ok, MANY have not. Rookie tricks, enough said there. Waters stated in the report that he was not forthright. He lied. He admitted to lying. You mention incidents which “largely occurred before Jon was ever director and at off-campus gatherings”. “Largely” is NOT entirely and the off-campus gatherings you are referencing are band parties. These band or row parties are attended by members of a particular row in band and have been tradition in said rows. UJ (uncle jack) night is an annual row party for sousaphones also attended by the student leadership that Waters has mentioned on several occasions. One might ask Waters if he recalls attending said band row tradition while he was a member of the sousaphone section. Waters attended these events while he was in band, was assistant director with knowledge of said events for 10 years and director with knowledge of said events for 2 years. He may have tried to change some things but he turned a blind eye to others. He was in a position to stop questionable practices. He did not. And now he will march on Saturday and says it is not to distract from the band. He is fortunate he has not been arrested for watching his former students march in undergarments. Someone said “This is not about the sexual assult of young children. This is about the crude behavior of young adults. There is a BIG difference”. Assault of young children AS WELL AS assault and harassment of young men and women is not acceptable. For those of you in society that think this is OK or justifiable, you are wrong and perhaps part of the pack mentality yourselves. I am sure there are many alumni and current band members who are sick over the stress, bad publicity and operational changes. Change is difficult but will essentially be good. Had Waters stopped the practices in question, had he required this to be part of the band, he would still have a job.

    The band is beginning to get positive publicity. Last weeks TVland show is a fine example. Why does Waters want to do anything to raise ANY more negativity for this group that is so ready to recover from the wounds. So good for Waters as the negative attention seems to never end.

  34. Buckeye in the West: Who needs tickets? Take a look at the mbandfan2 YouTube channel on Sunday for video of the Band’s Saturday performance day. You will find 700+ TBDBITL videos from the past 4 years at the mbandfan2 channel. On Sunday you should see Saturday’s practice (maybe- it’s early), Skull Session, pregame, halftime, etc. TBDBITL owns the channel and earns the ad revenue created by every view. Help support the Band and enjoy their performances, too.

  35. Thanks to Jon Waters’ dedication, wisdom, leadership, and passion for excellence, and to the amazing students in the OSU Marching
    Band, the shows are again spectacular. Jon’s Directing Staff has held them together. Our son’s experience is the same as Joe Krocker describes; in his 4 years he has never witnessed anything the Glaros Report claims.

    The Band has always received positive publicity, and last year, 85% of OSU’s positive publicity was about the Band. The negative publicity is thanks to President Drake. So far, the administration has done nothing to support the well-being of the Band students, who are the “young people entrusted to their care.” As the University is “moving forward,” they are stepping all over our sons and daughters, whose reputations they have destroyed. Every news story repeats a sexualized culture – that is dead wrong!

    We sent letters to each member of the Board of Trustees and to President Drake. The secretary to the Board sent a form letter response which had the same message as Mr. Drake’s letter, which was to visit the osu.edu/bandculture website. That is truly an insult to each and every Band member and parent.

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