A former member of the search committee tasked with finding a new director for the Ohio State Marching Band says the band’s former director, Jonathan Waters, was initially considered after he reapplied in January.
The search committee took Waters’ application seriously but kept it on the back burner because of his on-going legal battle with OSU, said Lindsay Conkel, a former member of the search committee and a fifth-year in architecture.
“From my understanding, he was considered for a very long time,” Conkel said. “When we got to narrowing down the list, all of a sudden, Jon’s name was no longer on this list and there was really no reason.”
Conkel said it seemed OSU’s administration wouldn’t consider re-hiring Waters after the search committee brought up the possibility.
She said a similar situation unfolded after Chris Hoch, the band’s assistant director, applied and was initially toward the top of the list.
“The committee started focusing on other people and there was speculation that employees of the university went to Chris Hoch and told him that he was no longer being considered for the position,” Conkel said.
Conkel, who stepped down from the search committee Friday via an email to the marching band and search committee, said she felt the committee’s direction was predetermined. She was one of two band members on the search committee.
“I have not one, but more than one person come to me and tell me what’s about to happen in the search committee before we’ve even met, and then watching those speculations play out, I mean red flags everywhere,” Conkel said. “It makes me think that upper administration could potentially be running this process.”
When asked to respond, OSU spokesman Chris Davey said he couldn’t comment on the details of the director search process in order to ensure it proceed unimpeded — something he’s maintained throughout the search.
Conkel said she felt there was a lack of transparency and communication between the university and the committee. She said she often learned information about the search from the media, rather than from OSU.
In one instance, Conkel said local news informed her that Corey Spurlin, a potential candidate from Auburn University, had withdrawn his name from the search process.
Spurlin, associate director of bands, marching band director and associate professor of music at Auburn University, visited OSU earlier this month to meet with band members and faculty.
Conkel said she didn’t know Spurlin was set to visit OSU until she received an email from associate director Scott Jones that was also sent to the rest of the band.
“These decisions being made are done by few people and not by the entire group. I no longer feel comfortable placing my name of decisions that I have no part in,” Conkel’s resignation email said.
Another finalist, Douglas Henderson, associate director of bands and director of the Cowboy Marching Band at Oklahoma State University, is set to visit campus Friday and Saturday.
OSU fired the band’s previous director, Jonathan Waters, in July after a university investigation found the band contained a sexualized culture. Waters has since sued the university for $1 million in damages and reinstatement.
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