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Questions remain as 2nd marching band culture investigation moves forward

Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery is slated to head a second cultural  investigation into Ohio State's marching band. Credit: Courtesy of Jen Detwiler

Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery is slated to head a second cultural investigation into Ohio State’s marching band.
Credit: Courtesy of Jen Detwiler

Ohio State is continuing with a second investigation of the university’s marching band with the help of outside firms, though questions remain about which firms will participate and what they will be paid.

President Michael Drake officially asked former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery to lead a second examination into the culture of the marching band in a letter recently posted to an OSU website. Drake dubbed Montgomery’s investigation the “Marching Band Culture Task Force.”

In the roughly two-page brief, he requested that Montgomery’s task force conduct an assessment of the band’s culture, review university processes and oversight, and provide counsel on Title IX compliance issues. He said he expects Montgomery to have investigation findings ready within 45 to 60 days.

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.

A two-month investigation into the band’s culture earlier this year found the marching band’s environment was conducive to sexual harassment. The findings ultimately led to the termination of former director Jonathan Waters because the report said he was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of that culture, but did not do enough to address it.

Drake said Montgomery’s task force will not be asked to reopen any aspect of the initial investigation that ousted Waters.

Outside firms on the task force include: Washington, D.C.-based Arent Fox LLP; Los Angeles-based David Vaughn Consulting Group; and London-based Ernst & Young, according to a statement from Montgomery on an OSU website. Another firm, listed as a cultural assessment firm, has yet to be determined.

Each firm will bring a different expertise to the table, said Jen Dewiler, a spokeswoman from outside firm Steiner Public Relations, which was hired by Montgomery to handle task force media inquiries. An OSU spokesman referred The Lantern to Dewiler for comment.

Arent Fox LLP specializes in Title IX and civil rights matters, David Vaughn Consulting Group has experience in investigations of large institutions, and Ernst & Young specializes in recommending changes based on data and document collection and analysis, Detwiler said.

A statement released by OSU in late July said the firm Sports Conflict Institute, based in Eugene, Ore., was set to review the band culture, but that firm wasn’t listed in Montgomery’s statement.

Detwiler said, however, the task force is still considering the firm to conduct the cultural assessment.

OSU has not yet said what compensation each firm will receive, Detwiler said.

“We expect the university to provide a full accounting of professional fees related to the task force’s work in a reasonable period of time after the task force work is completed,” Detwiler said.

Montgomery will work pro bono without compensation from the university, Detwiler said.


Correction: Oct. 10, 2014
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Ernst & Young was based in Columbus, when in fact, it’s based in London.


  1. From the article:

    “Drake said Montgomery’s task force will not be asked to reopen any aspect of the initial investigation that ousted Waters.”

    This appears to imply that the “independent investigation” will neither question the original investigation, nor question Waters’ firing.

    I have no idea what Waters might have done, or not done, to help or hurt the “band culture.” However, I do know, from firsthand experience, how OSU’s Pathological Administrative Subculture works.

    This statement by Dr. Drake may be the first solid indication that the secretive presidential search members did their job well, and will more than get their money’s worth. When I had first heard that Dr. Drake had commissioned another investigation, I had naively hoped otherwise: that he would come down on the side of careful, transparent, well reasoned decision making and would welcome a review of ALL information.

    Ha! Silly me!

    Karl Spaulding
    OSU Pariah Laureate

  2. I’d say this is an indictment seeking to reverse the greater society’s openness about sex, but only at Ohio State for some odd reason. Does this mean if a woman wears a t-shirt to practice that says “Juicy” (which some of us consider a sexual reference), does one have a duty to report she is sexualizing herself by wearing such clothing, thus embarassing other women? How does one deal with that? It’s either go back to the old dress codes or forget it because these days women as young as pre-pubescents are wearing this type of words on t-shirts, with very skimpy (some would say come hither) shorts to go with it, with their mothers’ blessings. How in the world do you make a federal case out of what everybody is doing these days? Only in the Midwest. Would not happen in NY.

  3. So Ohio State is now hiring no less than three outside companies to try to patch over the shambles they created with the original Glaros Report, and the panic firing of Waters? I wonder if the cost of this mulligan will approach the $600,000 for the Presidential search expenses? In the meantime, the Band that they are going after has no permanent compliance staff, no academic counselors, and no medical support, and its members’ reward for the countless hours of practice and preparation they put in is to have their names dragged through the mud by the University they were so proud to support until ten days ago. What a triumph.

    • The band fired Waters Just so they could put a black man as the director I mean they even hired a black man for president of the university after Gordon Gee they want them to have the spotlight the band is still great though

  4. THE Overreacting State University.

  5. I can’t wait for the recommendations from this new super committee. There must be some major lawsuits coming toward the university. Anyone know what the statute of limitations is for title IX? My guess is the same as murder. There is no statute of limitations, because the Women’s Studies Department needs to be sure that the entire university is not only run by women, but only has female students.

    I bet the end result of this will be a female band director and all-female staff. Sensitivity and Rape training courses for all men in the band both current and future. Plus the introduction of wind instruments, because there are too few women who play brass instruments in high school.

    You happy now, ladies of the Women’s Studies Department? Oh, I am sure the answer is no, because the president and all of his entire staff are still men.

  6. Buckeye in the West

    If Ohio State was trying to protect students, and young people, then the entire administration involved in the investigation, as well as Board of Trustees, need to be replaced. Releasing Exhibits A & B did far more dame than what was in the 23 report. Now every 20 something and below, across the country, has access to sexually explicit material. Under cyber laws, OSU effectively is distributing sexual material to minors. OSU may have opened up a very large liability suit, not only for wrongful termination, but for what they released.

    Meanwhile, as efforts of alumni, current, and former, band members pick apart the sham report; it is not helping the OSU ivory tower or its reputation. Dr. Waters on local Columbus TV, as well as on national outlets, makes OSU look even worse in the public eye.

    The rush to judgement and execution, by OSU, and some of the media, has done a great deal of damage. Like Penn State, the administration screwed up royally. Penn State hiding a sex scandal, OSU creating a non-existent one.

    So, having three different groups “investigate” is not to find out the truth, but to find a way to cover up the mess OSU created.

  7. I love that all the alumni are on these comment sections crying. Here is the deal. OSU is not going to risk title 9 violations, Cleary Act violation (unrelated I know) or national reputation or for anyone. No mater how many alumni donations are are stake, no matter how many “open letters from j-boobs”, no football coach is immune, no president is immune, no band coach is immune. OSU Will drop anyone they need to keep this university’s image good if you screw up or related to the situation. Where have you people been the last 5 years read the dang news? No one cares about the guy who makes cool shapes on a football field, he looks like a wizard in his university photo holding the wand. Open your eyes, OSU Is a business, they don’t want the government or any agency breathing down the university’s neck nor do they want to risk incoming student numbers or government funding. Get over it and donate your yearly $200 to your masters program.

    Just like Gee and Tressel, you get an ego in the job and think you can say or do anything you want. You are done.

    Tip #2 a president is a pawn of the Board of Trustees who actually makes the decisions. He is a figure head just like a King or Queen. If he doesn’t make the school look good, he’s done too. He is told what to do.

    Your 2 cents on the issue is about as valuable as your alumni dollars. Unless you’re Wexner, no one cares about your opinions name or any opinion of a faculty member, staff member or alumni. Move on! Go Bucks!

  8. Cry cry cry……go f yourself! Oh….wait…..that’s right…..you don’t have the equipment!

  9. The local paper reports that the university is NOW “clarifying” the reasons for Mr. Waters termination. Could the university muckety-mucks be hearing footsteps? Waters might be an employee at will, BUT as a state employee, he is entitled to some REAL due process. I hope he sues and wins, and exposes this PC witch hunt and its one-sided, result-oriented investigation. Also before this is over, the omnipotent PC police at OSU likely will mandate a female band director. I mean, is anyone REALLY surprised that the lead investigator appointed by the university for a SECOND investigation (hmmm. . . was something wrong with the first one?) is a woman (and lifer political hack/buddy of the governor)? Be honest now. . .

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