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Ohio State Marching Band members show optimism in wake of band scandal

Nathan MacMaster, a graduate student in public affairs and assistant drum major, said he is confident in OSU's marching band moving forward following the termination of former director Jonathan Waters. Still, MacMaster said Waters is one of his greatest mentors.  Credit: Logan Hickman / Campus editor

Nathan MacMaster, a graduate student in public affairs and assistant drum major, said he is confident in the Ohio State Marching Band’s ability to move forward following the termination of former director Jonathan Waters. Still, MacMaster said Waters is one of his greatest mentors.
Credit: Logan Hickman / Campus editor

Nearly a month after former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters was fired amid a wave of controversy, some band members and one interim director have said they expect the band to persevere with or without Waters.

“There are going to be challenges, (Waters) was a friend, but we have a great staff to support us, and we have a duty to be the best damn band in the land, and we’re still going to have great shows,” said David Pettit, a fifth-year piano performance major and the marching band’s drum major.

Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month OSU investigation into a complaint from a band member’s parent found “serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the marching band,” according to an OSU statement. It was found that Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of, that culture, but didn’t do enough to address it.

“We definitely want to clear our reputations, because we felt the report was very one-sided and, frankly, taken out of context,” Pettit said. “What I want the public to know is that we’re good people, and we’re college students — we’re going to make mistakes, but every day, we’re trying to better people.”

Pettit was one of 10 band-affiliated people made available to the media last week by the university. Others included eight current band members and one interim director.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said the event was organized by members of the band.

John Joyce, a recent band alumnus, is starting his fifth year with the band as continued education this fall. He said he thinks the report that led to Waters’ termination was faulty but trusts in the band’s leadership in moving on.

“I think, right now, we’re under very able leadership — I don’t think there’s a better group of people who could lead the band through this. I think you’re still going to see the great halftime shows that you expect of the band this season,” Joyce said.

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.

“I’m deeply confident in the show design staff we have,” Jones said Thursday. “Christopher Hoch, who is our associate director of marching and athletic bands here at Ohio State, is a very seasoned and expert drill designer. Part of developing shows for this year’s band is getting to know them (band members), getting to know their strengths and then figuring how we can put them forward with their very best attributes in front of a stadium full of very enthusiastic football fans.”

Nathan MacMaster, assistant drum major and a public affairs graduate student, said he’d like to see Waters reinstated but has confidence in the band’s ability regardless of what happens.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Waters). He’s been such a positive influence on my life, and he’s taught me so many great values — he’s one of my greatest mentors,” MacMaster said. “I really do believe that things will right themselves one way or another.”

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.

Kyle Kuebler, a fourth-year in astronomy, made the band for the first time this year with his twin brother Ryan, a fourth-year in communication.

Both said they trust in the band’s ability to move forward, even though they were shocked when Waters was terminated.

“I look forward to being on the field and being in the band and having some of the best times of my life with the marching band that I love,” Kyle Kuebler said.

“We’re going to take everything as nothing happened,” Ryan Kuebler said.

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

A search committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni will be brought together “in coming weeks” with the new director expected to be named within four to six months, according to an OSU press release.



  1. Hopefully Mr. Hickman, things will “right” themselves. Not “write” themselves. I took it that he was referring to “right the wrongs” Tell me please, you do know right from write, right?

  2. The Band members continue to show enormous dignity, given the despicable way they were treated by the University and Trustees, and in complete contrast to the picture of their behavior so misleadingly painted by the Glaros Report. Rest assured, however, that although the Band is maintaining its standards and professionalism, the Band alumni, parents, and the thousands of other supporters of TBDBITL are only going to re-double their efforts in the coming months to right this appalling and offensive injustice.

  3. It bears mentioning that the word “scandal” does not apply to the band or the conduct of the band. In this situation, the only scandal is the disrespect university administration has displayed for students and their refusal to accept facts or answer for their poor judgment.

  4. The word “alumni” is plural.

  5. Drake and the Trustees have done a terrible disservice to anyone who has ever put on the uniform of the OSUMB. They have embarrassed every alumni and student as well.

    The band should march the first game’s Ramp in total silence.

  6. The band members are responsible for the firing of the director, as it is their deplorable, disrespectful behavior that caused it. Did your parents not teach you to RESPECT others? I know society and the media have lowered themselves into despicable sexual behaviors, but OSU students should rise above that! Have some self-respect so you can hold your head high and feel good about yourself and your influence on others. I would not want to be subjected to the sexual name-calling, nicknames and behavior subjected to band members. It didn’t happen at my school thankfully. I don’t personally care if you think it is okay. It is not and you will learn that sooner or later…hopefully now! My daughter attends OSU and I am now thrilled she did not join the band, although I am a BIG fan of marching bands and drum corps. I won’t be wearing my Ohio State apparel for quite awhile – it is embarrassing.

  7. Nora drank the Kool-aid. Nora, don’t believe everything you read, it is packaged for the gullible masses. Alternatively, you are one of the paid shills supporting this cartel that has grabbed control of the university.

  8. Nora – Sweetheart, the administration and Trustees got you hook, line and sinker. Congratulations – I only hope for her sake that your daughter is smarter than you.

  9. About a year ago, the University increased the budget of the Marching Band from about $200,000 to $1,000,000. The purpose of this increase was partly to facilitate the band taking road trips to four away games each year because the band would be good ambassadors for the University. Now with all the bad publicity associated with the firing of the Director, the public relations on these trips will be negative. Think of the field day the other team’s media will have with our band, describing the mischief our band may or may not have made on this trip. It might be better if we just stay home.

  10. Old time Buckeye Alumni

    Has anyone consulted Mrs Joan Zieg Steinbrenner? After all, her name is on the band room located in Ohio Stadium. What would The Boss say about this? I dare say Jonathan Waters would still have his job of Mr Steinbrenner were still alive. You can take that to the bank.

  11. Old time Buckeye Alumni

    “if” …only if

  12. Yeah, sure..........

    I’m sure the OSUMB will carry on. You don’t work that hard on something to let it fall apart under adversity. It was wrong of the university to paint OSUMB members and alumni as some sort of perverts, just by virtue of being in the band. And making Mr. Waters a scapegoat based on their junior high school caliber “report” was the icing on the cake. I truly doubt that we will even see Mr. Waters directing the OSUMB again. I DO think that the university will eventually be making him a VERY wealthy man.

    That being said, MY “confidence” in the band staff is extremely low as there are some staff members that have absolutely no business being allowed anywhere near the OSUMB. I would suspect that some OSUMB members feel the same, but they would not be allowed to voice that and I would not expect them to jeopardize their hard earned spots in the band by being that honest.

    The OSUMB will be under tremendous scrutiny this year because of what the university has done and the pressure will be even greater than normal. But I know they will drive and give it their all as they ARE TBDBITL.

  13. Somehow I’m thinking that the band members have assumed the mentality of many football players–that they are above scrutiny and should not be disciplined. Yes other bands will be talking about OSU. I seriously doubt, however, that the administration would discipline the director of the bands without first having proof due to their visibility. As a musician for the past 50 years it is no surprise to me that this is going on, no matter how impressive the students are on the field. It’s time for an attitude adjustment.

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