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Jonathan Waters will march

The OSU Marching Band plays at a football game against Buffalo. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

The OSU Marching Band plays at a football game against Buffalo.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Lantern TV news director

Ousted Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters is planning to return to Ohio Stadium on Saturday, but it won’t be as the marching ensemble’s leader.

Waters will march with the alumni band into the stadium and during pregame during a performance at the Buckeyes’ home game against Kent State on Saturday. 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.

“He’ll probably be as low key as he can be, just put on the sousaphone and get out there and march the show,” said former OSU Marching Band director Paul Droste Thursday evening. “He’s a former co-director of the alumni band with me, so he is one of us both as a former member of the marching band and as a former staff member of the alumni band. It’s an open invitation from the alumni band to march with us and, if he would feel so inclined, to perhaps conduct a number during the game.”

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

In response to questions about the performance, Davey said the alumni band was not instructed to avoid the topic of Waters’ firing Saturday and its upcoming performance was not screened by anyone at the university.

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 OSU to consider rehiring him. OSU President Michael Drake and the Board of Trustees, however, have declined to reconsider his case.

After nearly two months of tip-toeing around the decision to take legal action, Waters’ attorney David Axelrod suggested Thursday that his client might be closer to suing.

“I’m a realist,” Axelrod said. “It does appear that the university’s decision is entrenched. As I indicated before, if Jon concludes that there’s no hope, then litigation is a viable option.”

Some band alumni have made it clear they are standing with Waters.

Jacob Lowe, a former snare drum player with the marching band, said he wasn’t planning to march with the alumni band this fall until the report that led to Waters’ termination was released in July.

“Once the report came out and the fallout happened, I changed my mind and thought I should support the TBDBITL family and march, even though it means giving money to the university,” he said via Facebook message.

John Draper, a senior lecturer at Fisher College of Business and marching band alumnus, said he plans to perform with the alumni band on Saturday, but didn’t know what the show will look like.

“We really don’t know what the show will be. We show up on Friday and only find out what the performance will be during Saturday morning practice,” he said Thursday, before The Lantern reported Waters planned to march.

Draper said there are about 700 members planning to march Saturday, which is a little larger than usual.

Regardless of what decision Waters makes as far as legal action goes, the university plans on naming a new director by February. It has named University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones as interim directors until that 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 release.

In the 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.

Elizabeth Tzagournis, Sam Kayuha and Liz Young contributed to this article.


  1. “the OCR … praised the university for its handling of the situation.” Haha. That’s the Obama administration trying to throw Michael Drake a lifeline. How transparent.

  2. The DoE/OCR report makes it clear that they did not read the Glaros Report critically, but took it,and the University’s actions, at face value. Clearly their assumption was that the University would be honest and truthful in making its case to trash the Band and Waters, which just goes to show how naive and gullible people can be.

  3. In plain language, somebody got screwed.

  4. Jon Waters did no wrong. I will stand behind him and the OSUMB until the day I die. The University I once loved has chosen a wrong and cowardly way to make this investigation go away. They are wrong and will not get my financial support again.
    Those of us who know call this report “bunk”.
    We are not going away…

  5. You’d think OSU would at least attempt to obscure the fact that they launched this entire destructive charade to appease federal investigators. Unfortunately, the fact that the administration was successful means that they have avoided consequences for their failures and are free to continue without making any changes.

    The university does not deserve a guy like Jon, who has given two decades of sacrifice to serve students in ways that the faculty and administration never will.

    My cold comfort is that history will judge these idiots and their actions. When they are gone, those of us who believe in the educational and public service mission of OSU will work to restore our university.

  6. The OCR’s acceptance of the Glaross report is like saying “you wrote something after all the questions on the test, so you get an A” without actually checking to see that the answers are even related to the questions. #IStandWithJonWaters

  7. This does not come as a surprise to those who have followed this case closely, read the testimony of current and recent band members, and have read countless accounts of changes Mr. Waters had been making the last two years. He clearly did not tolerate harassment, abuse, alcohol and more based on the reports of those involved in the band.

    Now we’re left to wonder, how is Ohio State addressing the issues that got them in Title IX trouble in the first place beyond trashing a man’s career as well as the reputation of the great students who make up the OSUMB? Have they made the students safer? Have they reduced the opportunities for discrimination on campus? Or are we left to interpret this was nothing more than a symbolic sacrifice in order to keep the feds happy and the funds flowing??

  8. Yes, Jon and every band member is the sacrifice. Thanks to the Dept. of Education for enlightening those of us who could not understand how President Drake could fire Jon Waters. Now the other 78 colleges and universities know know how to close a DOE TItle IX Investigation: Target a high profile, dedicated band director, harass its Title IX coordinator into quitting, provide no support or direction to the band, create an inaccurate report which destroys the reputation of its director and every one of its students, fire the director, and claim the lies in the report are facts.

    Here is my concern: what were the TItle IX violations at OSU for the last 3-3/4 years that were under investigation? They were not about the band, and firing Jon Waters did not address them.

    Everyone should be asking the Administration how are they really handling 4 years of problems of sexual abuse on its campus?

  9. Yeah, sure..........

    Good for Jon Waters. Luckily the university will not be able to stifle the Alumni Band’s support of Jon, like they did to the band. Nothing like being threatened if you should protest something you think is wrong. TOSU is really training a new generation of butt kissers there.

    Now this can go out to the other universities that are being investigated that you can get out from under the microscope by giving the government pages of illegible junk and firing someone who had absolutely nothing to do with sexual harassment that occurred campus wide in the years before he was put in charge.
    TOSU has sacrificed not only Jon Waters, but the current band and thousands of band alumni. Why? Because they knew if the government kept on digging, they would REALLY find something. But the firing had nothing to do with the government’s investigation? More lies from the university.
    Let the law suits begin.

  10. Buckeye in the West

    OSUMB parent; you pretty much nailed it.

    We, the alumni, would like an investigation of the administration, board and office of compliance by someone appointed by the alumni. We now can figure out that Ms. Montgomery’s investigation is a whitewash before it even gets started. She was appointed by the board to conduct a deeper investigation. Anyone following this know that Montgomery’s investigation will vindicate the administration and further crucify Jon Waters, the band and its alumni.

    Who going forward will ever trust President Drake, the board of Trustees or the OSU administration? They lied and cheated to protect their ivory tower.

  11. Buckeye in the West

    And, to be clear, I never was a member of the band, but a very discouraged alumni and donor to OSU.

  12. LOl–he will be low-key! Never mind that the alum band director made an announcement to the press and TV interviews to announce his presence. The good ol’ boys’ club in is fine form, yes they are! And Axelrod announces yet again that at the end of the road, if Waters doesn’t get his job back, look for litigation. Litigation based on WHAT? Empty threats, folks.

  13. Sorry, Out of the Box, but the law suit will be based on dismissal without due process, not to mention defamation. And it will likely be accompanied by law suits from the several former Band members whose privacy rights were trampled on by OSU in its desperation to make the phony Glaros Report public. These are NOT empty threats.

  14. So agree with Out of the Box! The Glaros Report phony??? Waters stated in the report that 50% of the band nicknames were inappropriate or sexual in nature. Though many have defended their nicknames as being ok, MANY have not. Waters stated in the report that he was not forthright. He lied. He admitted to lying. 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. This is why Waters does not have a basis for a lawsuit and this is why Waters will not get this job back. 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. The good ol’ boys’ club in fine form is right! The band is beginning to get positive publicity. He can’t allow that to happen. It might mean they are moving on without him.

  15. Buckeye in the West


    Guess what? The administration has known about midnight ramp for years. The OSU police knew about it too. Oh, also guess what, WCMH TV debunked almost the entire Glaros Report; the video “Truth Test” is on their web site.

    People would not be up in arms if the Glaros Report were all true; but, it was very flawed. If anyone should be accused of sexual harassment; it’s OSU. They released the report and two very sexually explicit appendixes. The Glaros Report is available to everyone on the Internet; including minors.

    Most every Greek house has a similar songbook and a similar exam. The Greek System is subject to the same rules as any other student organization associated with Ohio State, including student conduct, sexual harassment, Title IX, etc.

    OSU wanted to make an example and effectively crossed he line of decency. Whatever the agenda was, they not only defamed Jon Waters, the OSUMB, and its alumni; hey used a sledge hammer to do so. They took the most visible organization, at OSU, with the exception of the football team, and dragged them through the mud. Then, tied it up in a neat package for the Department of Education.

    And no, I do not know what happened behind closed doors in Bricker Hall, but the real liars here are those hiding behind a flawed report and a flawed investigation. Eventually, the truth will come out and it looks like it will occur in the Franklin County Courthouse.

  16. Channel 4 has posted the entire text of the OSUMB’s investigation just this afternoon.
    From the 1st word of the report,the executive summary, body and appendices to their document it is a much more structured, cohesive and professional, not to mention, accurate report than the one issued by the University. I have talked to many attorneys throughout the country who have no vested interest in OSU and their take on the University’s report in July and all concur it is outrageously unsubstantiated, poorly constructed, and not worthy of a freshman Law student. Bear in mind it is signed by an administrator who earns nearly 400k dollars a year at my beloved alma-mater.
    The Alumni’s report today is a chilling reminder just how corporate this corporation (no longer a University and doesn’t deserve to be called an institution of higher learning) has become. The lack of interest, cooperation, and intimidation shown to Alumni of the Band as chronicled in the report as they try to ascertain the truth is antithetical to the mission of this once proud University.
    I wish I could be hopeful for a more positive outcome of this situation for the malicious falsehoods that have placed current and former members of the band having to defend their own character, irrespective of the truths. The University has indeed suffered a blow to their reputation but it pales in comparison to the wonderful members of the band who have absolutely no way to defend themselves to a public that does not and will never know what is the truth. OSU used to want to do and be better —now they just want this to go away before it affects their bottom line —- it will be interesting to see how the Development Office scrambles in order to keep perspective donors in the fold-what lies are the donors going to be told…….. the trust (if there ever was any-is gone)
    In the meantime – read the report on NBC4i.com

  17. @Buckeye in the West

    Waters lied and admitted to doing so. Waters verified the questionable practices were occurring. He has said he could not change such questionable practices on a dime but conversely said the report is flawed. So which is it? He could not change things or they did not occur? And you are correct. The appendixes are explicit. If they are so explicit, then how can you justify the use of such derogatory documents. They are disgusting examples of disrespect towards protected classes under the OCR.

    AND are you justifying all of this because the Greek house also does it!

    Did it ever occur to you that the university has more information about this case than the general public (including alumni).

  18. When you depend on the DOE to substantiate anyting,you are in trouble….common core curriculum,rewriting American History….not a great track record.Then you have Steinmetz,Wadsworth and Drake…not from Ohio…none are Ohio Staters….absolutely destroying band members and their leader.We,alumni and student body,are watching the serious erosion of trust,confidence and pride in Our school happen because of poor judgement and inept leadership.There is an arrogance of power at my alma mater that needs to be addressed and changed.

  19. @Buckeye in the West – please don’t try to appropriate someone else’s name just to confuse the issue. It makes you look every bit as deceitful as the OSU administration. Actually the comparison of the Band with a fraternity is not a very good one. For a start, there is no entry “ritual” or hazing – you get in by winning a spot in the tryout process, and that is it. The rest of your post is logically incoherent. And FYI, public institutions like Ohio State cannot hide information requested under the FOIA. The University will now be very nervous about what will be revealed during depositions and disclosures, especially since yesterday’s DoE report shows that the firing of Waters was nothing more than an unnecessary PR stunt.

  20. Hey….maybe he can dot the “I” when they do the script. that would be cool.

  21. Waaaaaa! Do y’all want some cheese to go with the incessant whining and crying about the band director being fired? Pampers? Pacifier? Baby bottle? Get a grip and move on. Amazing how responses are excoriated when people voice an opinion against the “support Jon Waters” norm. Waaaaaaaaaaa!

  22. Sad story – you should be eternally grateful that Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, and a host of others throughout history didn’t just “move on”. Your life would be very different if they had. There’s right and there’s wrong, and if we don’t stand up against what is wrong, we are just as guilty as the actual perpetrator. So, no one is “moving on” – best get used to it.

  23. Anonymous, are you kidding me?! Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, and a host of others throughout history fought for disenfranchised, disempowered, and dispossessed peoples around the globe! Are you kidding me trying to make a comparison of a fired marching band director to some of the greatest martyrs of the 20th century. That’s what makes this band director termination so laughable. A bunch of crybaby people. When has Jon Waters been denied his right to vote? When has the band members been discriminated based on race and/or gender? Stop making comparisons to people who sacrificed their lives for the greater good of humanity. Jon Waters is/was an overpriced contractor and his contract was terminated. Move on.

  24. Sad Story
    The issue is bigger than the band director. A corrupt OSU Administration throws another victim under the bus to protect the flow of $$$. The inept Title 9 Compliance Office rakes in $$$. You must be in on the take.

  25. Chuck, you are one of the reasons my tag line is Sad Story. To assert “you must be in on the take” is such an infantile assertion. The courthouse sits in downtown Columbus and filing a lawsuit to redress grievances is an option for anyone who is “wrongfully terminated” from employment. This option is open to Mr. Waters. Stop assuming that just because people responding to this issue with an opinion contrary to your own, are in cahoots with the administration. I have three degrees from OSU, however, that’s beside the point. Mr. Waters has some options. He also has a choice to squash all of the extraneous drama associated with his termination.

  26. Just sad. Let it go man. Why would you want to work for an organization that has “wronged” you. Why make a spectacle of yourself? Start a new chapter.

  27. Sad Story
    I learned about fighting injustice in grade school, before I earned my three degrees at Ohio State. Perhaps you could do a post doc.

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