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TBDBITL Alumni Club calls for independent investigation into Jon Water’s firing

From left: TBDBITL Alumni Club president Brian Golden, director emeritus Paul Droste and law chair Gary Leppla oversee a meeting at the Fairfield Inn on Olentangy River Road on Sept. 12. The meeting dealt heavily with the association's newly published report on the firing of former band director Jonathan Waters.  Credit: Lee McClory / Design editor

From left: TBDBITL Alumni Club president Brian Golden, director emeritus Paul Droste and law chair Gary Leppla oversee a meeting at the Fairfield Inn on Olentangy River Road on Sept. 12. The meeting dealt heavily with the association’s newly published report on the firing of former band director Jonathan Waters.
Credit: Lee McClory / Design editor

TBDBITL Alumni Club’s law review chair, Gary Leppla, said at a press conference Friday not only should former band director Jon Waters be reinstated, but the report and subsequent firing of Waters hurt band members and alumni and opened them to humiliation.

“Because of this report, we have reached certain conclusions. Jon Waters should be immediately reinstated, there should be a full, fair, independent investigation,” Leppla said at a press conference Friday.

The Ohio State band alumni association announced the results of their investigation into former band director Jon Waters’ firing at a press conference at the Fairfield Inn on Olentangy River Road Friday afternoon.

Waters was fired July 24 from his post as marching band director.

The report also called for independent control of the band. Currently, the band is controlled by the School of Music, but the alumni group said there were too many differences between the band’s culture as a military band to be involved in marching band affairs. Leppla added their investigation turned up possible jealousy led to Waters’s firing as well.

“There are issues involving who should control the marching band…We think there’s a natural rivalry between the School of Music situation and the marching band,” Leppla said.

During the conference, Leppla, along with current TBDBITL Alumni Club’s president Brian Golden, former president Shelly Graf, and director emeritus Paul Droste, commended Waters for his work and additional funds he raised for the band.

According to Leppla and Golden, Waters raised an additional $46 million while band director, in part because of contracts with Apple.

They also cited multiple times when Waters helped tear down destructive band culture. While Golden was in the band, he had a nickname, but said he liked the nickname and wasn’t called by it that often. He said the nickname didn’t deter him from becoming alumni president.

“Leading the fight for Jon Waters, it’s, ‘Rudy, Rudy, Rudy,” he said. “If that’s the only name they know who I am, so be it.”

Golden was given the nickname because he was “five feet nothing and played a big instrument,” but didn’t specify which instrument he played.

However, Leppla added the nicknames were not ok, and he was glad Waters forbade the practice in 2012.

“To be direct, just because some women aren’t offended by those nicknames doesn’t mean it’s ok. Nobody’s saying that,” Leppla said. “But we don’t have an instance where someone was saddled with an nickname they didn’t want.”

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it was ending its four-year probe into Ohio State’s handling of sexual violence. Included in that report was a compliment on the investigation into the band culture, according to the U.S. Deptartment of Education’s website. Leppla said the investigation may have had something to do with what the club viewed as a rushed report and sudden firing.

According to the Associated Press, Ohio State has denied its actions against Waters were an attempt to placate the federal investigation and declined to comment on the report.

Waters plans to march with TBDBITL alumni tomorrow at their annual reunion march according to an interview with The Lantern.

“I’m there to support the students and to support the alumni band members, and to really trumpet the true culture of the band,” Waters said. “The alumni band members… it’s a family. Those are the true tangible and demonstrable part of the band culture, and that’s what we want to show at Ohio Stadium.”

Logan Hickman contributed to this report.



  1. Buckeye in the West

    It will be very interesting what they come up with; I strongly support their effort. Especially, if the investigation is conducted by someone who has no personal interest is the OSUMB or OSU.

    I also agree that the OSUMB should be not be under control by multiple departments. Right now, the OSUMB is in at least two departments: School of Music and Athletics. It should be moved to Athletics. Those in the band would still get course credit regardless.

    No matter the outcome, this is going to be ugly, regardless.

  2. I support the effort for a thorough and complete independent investigation. This entire event has all the fingerprints of a political railroading and is exactly the type of thing that is unacceptable at Ohio State.

    The poor decision by the President and the Board, based on a shoddy and partly fictionalized report has already cost the university a single $150 million dollar that was retracted by a couple who recently donated $5 million to the business school.

    This type of decision a year after the university made what is arguably the worst business deal in university history on the campus parking, really does call into question the competency and decision-making ability of those who run the university. Something is very, very wrong in the administration building.

  3. Yeah, sure..........

    An independent investigation is certainly warranted based on the findings of the Alumni Band report (and yes, I read all 103 pages of it). Unlike the Glaros “report” it puts forth facts, not suppositions and innuendo.

    It is not only Jon Waters that was wronged, but 225 current band members and thousands of band alumni. Reading this report and the stories about how this has affected alumni, current band members and their families is truly heartbreaking. I expected better from tOSU. I guess things have changed too much from when I graduated and the friendship is no longer firm. Sadly I am ashamed to say I am a Buckeye, not because of anything the OSUMB did, but what the university has done to Jon Waters, the band, band alumni and all of us who truly believe they are the PRIDE OF THE BUCKEYES.

  4. Happens to good people all the time at the University. Wish the culture would change, there should be corrective action outside of termination.

  5. Anthony Peter Coleman

    We demand justice. Bring back the chicken and dumplings at the Union!

  6. Qbert is right. The place is made up of bureaucrats.

  7. I keep waiting for the adult in Mr. Waters to surface and tell his obviously oversized ego to just “move on.” If the report by the university was so unjust, challenge it in a court of law. Evidently, Mr. Waters has failed to do that. Instead, he and his coterie and sycophants would rather besmirch the University and the president and the trustees. They have the right to terminate a contract with probable cause. His employment was terminated. Irregardless of how flawed the OSU report may have been, Waters employment was terminated and if he feels that he didn’t receive due process, the courthouse sits at South High Street in downtown Columbus. The alumni band and it’s absurdities are making a mockery of the situation. Mr. Waters needs to grow a pair; stop engaging in sophomoric antics; challenge his firing in court; or move on. I’ve never seen such childish behavior because a band director was fired.

  8. Buckeye in the West

    Yeah sure,

    When current band members get ridiculed, in their home stadium, by supposed Ohio State fans, then you know how much damage was caused by the OSU administration. Appendix 7 is full of stories, of current and former band members, being impacted. Some of these stories are sad.

    It is even sadder that people like Archie Griffin come out in favor of the OSU administration and agrees with the university’s administration. I do no share Mr. Griffin’s view, and he does not speak for the alumni. Mr. Griffin has forgotten where he came from, and like the rest of the OSU administration, lives in the ivory tower; disconnected from reality.

    Finally, as OSU fans travel to away games, they should expect lewd comments about their association with Ohio State. A price we now all have to pay, thanks to the OSU administration.

    This is another example of OSU caring more about the money, than its students, alumni, faculty and staff. Multi millionaires, on the Board of Trustees, care about their own, the 1%. Administrators their fiefdoms.

  9. Buckeye in the West

    Sad Story, under Ohio Law Jon Waters was not given due process. “Right to work” is not carte blanche to “Right to terminate”.I guess you did not bother to look at the WCMH web site and view the story which “Fact Checked” the OSU Report; it was completely debunked. Nor, did you read the OSUMB Alumni Band Report report, which equally debunks he OSU report.

    But, people are entitled to their own opinion. Just remember when you go to an away game, and show your OSU colors, you may be subjected to lewd remarks. This is not about Jon Waters any more; it is about all students and alumni who now get ridiculed because they show their support for Ohio State.

  10. Congrats to alumni for standing up for finding the truth!

  11. Buckeye in the West,
    I do not attend sport events. I have three degrees from OSU. “Lewd” comments have been and will be made about OSU irrespective of whether the venue is sports or academics. So what. I don’t take it personal. I do take it personal when lewd comments are made directly to me AT Ohio State University.

  12. This is just sad. Walk away. Call your lawyer. Find another job. Proving that if things didn’t end badly, they wouldn’t end.

  13. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Don’t give up TBDBITL Alumni! Pay no attention to lapdogs who tell you to “move on” and “grow a pair.” This entire affair was botched from the get go. Continue to hammer this corrupt process and demand redress for this wrongful termination. As to the comments about Archie Griffin: yes — it’s true that OSUAA was “absorbed” by tOSU and that single action essentially surrendered any independent advocacy on behalf of OSU alumni around the globe. That in itself is a sad state of affairs. There is now ZERO accountability to the Alumni.

  14. I’m elated that Otterbein University Marching Cardinals are not having these situations.

  15. Sad Story – If you really have three degrees from Ohio State, which judging by your inability to either comprehend written information or express yourself I seriously doubt, then you would know the difference between “it’s” and “its”. Just saying.

  16. Anyone saying that Jon needs to move on is missing the bigger point. This isn’t just about a man being wrongfully terminated. This is about thousands of people being slandered by a university they love. We will not move on until our names have been cleared.
    If you don’t care, no one is forcing you to read these articles. In fact, the continued comments and page views from people who don’t care only serves to fuel this story’s longevity.

  17. I know a political assassination when I see one. Jon was sacrificed to get the federal title IX probe out of Columbus. They fed a sacrificial lamb to appease the feds. Will Meyer be fired now for a pervasive drug culture on the football team? Of course not, that would impact cash flow.

  18. Rosa Parks did not “move on” in the face of injustice.

  19. Thank you TBDBITL Alumni Club for your report and support for Jon Waters, the Alumni, and the current members of the OSU Marching Band. In his 4 years, our son has not experienced what the Glaros report claims. So far, the Administration has done nothing for what they claim as their responsibility – to support the well being of the Band students, who are the “young people entrusted to their care.” In fact, President Drake has done just the opposite.

    As the University is “moving forward,” they are stepping all over our sons and daughters, whose reputations they have destroyed. Every news story repeats the claim of sexualized culture, which is dead wrong. We sent letters to each member of the Board of Trustees and to President Drake, expressing our concerns. The Secretary to the BOT 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. We are thankful that the TBDBITL Alumni are fighting to restore the reputation of its members, of Jon Waters, and of the current OSUMB students, since the Administration has done nothing to support the well-being of these young people entrusted to their care.

  20. I was one of the first women in the band and, like many others, I returned to march with the Alumni Band yesterday. I don’t know Jon Waters personally however I am honored beyond words to be part of his “family”. I have been following this story with tremendous interest, as you can imagine. Everything changed this weekend though. Jon wasn’t the guy on the news anymore. He wasn’t the man who posed in front of the band when they played the “Superman” theme song at Skull Session. He was the man standing in front of us, with so much professionalism and class that I simply couldn’t believe it. I didn’t see a man full of outrage and anger. I saw a man who was heartbroken because the reputation of his band “family” had been unjustly tarnished. He even came up to me, as well as many of the other “old timers” during the game, and gave me a hug. The stories of the true culture of the band were shared by many of us during this weekend. I heard stories about Jon Waters that made me so damn proud to be even remotely associated with a man who cared so deeply about the students, the community and the university that he served. I’ve marched in the Alumni Band before and this simply was not a regular Alumni Reunion. We were proud, as always, but many of us were very sad. It is always easy to shine when things are going great. Jon Water’s world has been shattered, yet he simply “shined” with dignity and grace this past weekend. I feel bad for those students that were robbed of his presence. I feel even worse for the thousands of us from all over the country that have marched in the Shoe and now bow our heads in embarrassment over these false claims. I used to answer questions about how hard it was to march the Script Ohio. Now I answer questions about the “sexualized” culture of my beloved band. Shame on my university for hurting so many of us and shame of my university for professionally assaulting Jon Waters.

  21. Anonymous @9:47:
    I have two prior postings and neither contain the words “it’s”, “its” or any derivatives. I’m just saying.

  22. Sad Story – then you’re just saying wrong. Quote – “the alumni band and it’s absurdities . . ” – September 12th, 9:57, third line from the bottom.
    Oops 🙂

  23. Sad Story

    “Irregardless” is considered nonstandard and is not used by most educated people.
    …take it personally (not personal)

  24. For everybody that has commented that Waters should just ‘move on,’ (in addition to the commentaries of others) because the university commissioned an “independent” investigation, there would be no point in suing the university until the BM report is complete. It would be the equivalent of hitting a moving target.

    So in the meantime, Waters and the TBDBITL Alumni choose to expose the board for the (IMHO) unethical behaviors of not actually correcting the sexual assault problems on campus, but rather throw the band (who is not the problem) under the bus to appease the DOE (and as of last Thursday it worked)!

  25. Let us pause for a moment and shed a single, glistening tear for the hurt feelings of the band alumni association, who insist they are the victims here. *shed*

    Now that that’s out of the way, how about focusing on actual problems on campus involving current students in the actual band. There wouldn’t be an investigation or 5 if something wasn’t…you know…happening. The buck (or the buckeye) stops with the person whose authority extends over the group in question, and that would be the director. The answer isn’t to say “well the band shouldn’t be under the school of music but should be separate so it can have its own speshul rules” or “my MALE child didn’t experience anything inappropriate” or any blame shifting. You look at a problem square in the face and deal with it like adults. Dealing with things objectively is supposed to be one of the things university life is supposed to be teaching.

    The band director doesn’t get some magical shield because people experience fierce loyalty, former President Gee was beloved by many and he screwed up and was shown the door.

  26. Gretchen Rph, I’m sorry that you only have one tear to shed for all the female members of the band who’ve been harassed by family members, coworkers and new sites. I’ve had female friends from band tell me that male colleagues have thought it perfectly fine to ask them if they’ve run around in their underwear in the stadium. My friend Joobs has had her breast size discussed at length in online message boards. This isn’t people being sad that they can’t be sexually explicit any more. This is people suffering from abuse of much greater degree than they ever faced in band, and in the national spotlight to boot.

    So cry your one tear. The rest of us are going to be fighting to clear the names of all our men and women.

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