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Ohio State pays at least $885 an hour for 2nd band investigation; questions remain about firms involved

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Ohio State is shelling out a combined $885 per hour to at least two of the three private firms involved in a second OSU investigation into the marching band’s culture, but questions remain about how much the third firm is being paid and whether a fourth is being brought on.

Washington, D.C.-based Arent Fox LLP is being compensated $49,000, or $425 per hour for about 115 hours, for its efforts while Los Angeles-based David Vaughn Consulting Group is being paid $460 hourly, according to letters provided to The Lantern to fill a records request Thursday.

David Vaughn Consulting Group will also bill the university for travel expenses at about $288 per hour for no more than seven hours per day, and OSU will be responsible for “actual reasonable and customary out-of-pocket expenses” including travel, meals and Internet fees, according to an engagement letter from the firm to OSU.

Still, it’s uncertain how much the other firm, London-based Ernst & Young, will receive. It’s also not clear if a fourth cultural assessment firm is part of the investigation.

An Aug. 5 statement from Montgomery on an OSU website said that a fourth firm had yet to be determined.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said spokesman Chris Davey would be looking into why the third contract wasn’t provided and if a fourth firm had been chosen when asked in an email after business hours Thursday.

According to NBC4, the university said it did not have a contractual agreement with the company.

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.

The investigation — headed by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and dubbed “The Marching Band Culture Task Force” — was commissioned by OSU President Michael Drake to conduct an assessment of the band’s culture, review university processes and oversight, and provide counsel on Title IX compliance issues. Title IX says schools that receive federal funding can’t discriminate against people based on gender.

Montgomery, who is reporting directly to Drake and the OSU Board of Trustees, was supposed to have her results ready by the beginning of October. She said in an Oct. 2 letter to Drake and the Board that they won’t be ready for four to six more weeks, however.

Montgomery’s letter said the investigation’s task force has conducted about 140 interviews with current and former band members, parents, and university and community members. Of those interviews, over half were of current or former band members.

The interviews typically took an hour to an hour and a half each, Montgomery said.

The task force has also conducted an anonymous survey of hundreds of band members from 2009 to present, reviewed thousands of documents and responded to hundreds of emails and letters, she said.

The investigation was announced shortly after former marching band director Jonathan Waters was fired July 24.

Waters was terminated after a separate OSU investigation found the band contained a sexually fueled culture that Waters was aware of or should have reasonably been aware of, but didn’t do enough to change.

Since his dismissal, Waters and his attorney have made multiple public appearances and submitted a letter asking OSU to consider rehiring him. Drake and the Board of Trustees, however, have declined to reconsider his case.

Waters announced Sept. 26 he plans to sue the university for a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages. He will also seek punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement. Waters’ lawsuit claims he was not given due process following the initial cultural investigation and says he was discriminated against on the basis of gender.

Former Ohio Attorney General and Board of Regents chancellor Jim Petro has signed onto Waters’ legal team to assist in the effort.

Meanwhile, the university has maintained its position and has since released a statement saying its ready to take on the legal fight.

The university has said it plans on naming a new director by February. University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones are serving as the interim directors until that permanent director is selected.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced after a compliance review of the university was concluded Sept. 11 that it will enter into an agreement with OSU to ensure proper Title IX obedience, 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.

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.


  1. Too bad the U.S. DoE statement (re: the band) was based upon a false and inaccurate “report.” OSU Admins are gonna have some explaining to do once DoE figures out they were deceived.

  2. Why would you combine the hourly wage of 2 separate entities and claim one per hour expense? That is patently absurd. This garbage analysis created a misleading headline that is OBVIOUSLY false. Is there even an editor for the Lantern anymore? If so both of you are incompetent. What a joke.

  3. The Alumni Band’s report looks better and better.
    We are beginning to find out why our children’s education is so expensive. These administrators are drawing outrageous salaries and spending our hard earned tax dollars like drunken sailors.
    The legislature and the governor need to involve themselves in this fiasco, or face the voters in the next election with better answers than the BOT and university president are coming up with.
    So far, we have seen very little evidence of a sexualized culture, but a lot of evidence of very poor decision making and fiscal discipline on the part of the University administration.
    The Board of Trustees and their president have and are bringing great shame to the University.

  4. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Lantern editors: let those insults slde right off your back. The importnt thing to recognize here is who is paying the invoice and that is OSU. Chances are EXCELLENT OSU will get the results it is paying for — nothing more and nothing less. Your pursuit of the truth in this entire debacle is impressive to me and so many others. Your moderator/advisor should nominate your editorial team for a national award. You deserve it!!

  5. Buckeye in the West

    The OSU Alumni Band conducted their own investigation for free. Their report shot so many holes in the so called Glaros report, that it looked like Swiss cheese. So, the administration’s response? Spend even more money in order to continue to try to justify a flawed investigation. Like Congress, waste taxpayer money. People should remember this when tuition is raised next year.

    The administration will claim that this money is not coming from state funding or student fees, if not from there, and not from federal grants, then it is coming from money contributed to the university. There needs to be an external investigation of the Board of Trustees and the OSU administration. Unfortunately, the governor, and Ohio legislature, does not seem to see a problem. They are too busy with their own political agendas.

    What we do know was that John Waters was railroaded, for the benefit of the OSU administration to get the US Department of Education off the OSU campus. In the process his reputation, the bands, and its alumni were made sacrificial lambs of convenience. An external investigation would determine what the OSU administration was covering up in regards to failing to meet Title IX compliance. The Montgomery investigation is not an external investigation, but a way for OSU to justify the means of their first botched investigation. It too, will not be worth the paper it is written on.

    It looks like Jon Water’s lawsuit will probably bring everything to light. That is, the governor, state legislature, the Board of Trustees and senior OSU administration were probably in collusion to prevent a far reaching investigation, of OSU, by the federal government. The reason? Millions of dollars of federal grant money and what a federal investigation would uncover.

  6. Thank you Lantern for digging into this. It’s sad to say that the more I learn about the inner workings of Ohio State, the less proud I am to say I am a Buckeye. Fire Drake, clean house in the compliance department, and look into the Board of Trustees. Then MAYBE I will consider donating to OSU again.

  7. Arent Fox LLP represents at least 4 companies that have contracts with OSU. I’m sure they will do whatever it takes to keep the Board happy, so their clients can continue to be happy.

    David Vaughn Consulting Group says its specialty is helping with crisis management. I read that as “will manage to help the BoT manipulate the 2nd report in order to avert another crisis”. Oh yes- David Vaughn is a grad of the UC system, more than likely buddies with Drake, and has the most vague webpage of non-info I’ve seen for a professional. I understand it was created ~2 weeks before he was hired.

  8. Just think, had the Compliance Office/Gates Garrity-Rokous allowed the Title IX process to work as it should early on, OSU might never be in this position. Think how much money, not to mention reputational harm and personal angst, could have been saved.

  9. When will people wake up the the whole point of “diversity” and “sensitivity.” It’s a scam…the whole purpose is to divide us and make trouble, which puts lots of cash in the hands of otherwise useless administrators, bureaucrats, and “private consulting firms.” The American economy is being weighed down by this nonsense (as well as government regulation and the fear of even more of it)…wake up, people, before the country slides even further into decline.

  10. Diversity and sensitivity are only scams to people who have privilege and do not recognize the disparities in treatment of people based on gender, religion, race, ability, sexual orientation, etc. It would have been great if treatment of all was equitable and therefore, legislation wasn’t necessary to even the playing field and repair old and ongoing harms. That is not to say the legislation is always effective, well-written or well-implemented.

  11. Andrea Goldblum – You are so right. If Gates-Rokos and his Office of Compliance were remotely competent at their jobs in the first place, they would never have needed to drag the OSUMB and its Director through the mud on a trumped-up charge as they did. It is hard to reconcile an Office whose function is to protect the integrity of the workplace with such utterly immoral behavior.

  12. The Real Ohio State Inc. (tm)

    To Bill Curtis: Bingo! The old talking point that “you gotta pay premium dollar to get a premium education” gets shot in the ass once sunlight is shined on the administrators salaries and what those administrators spend university money on.

    It’s simply graft from top to bottom. The BOT are self-limiting. They have the power to approve or reject tuition increases. Have they ever rejected one outside of a mandated tuition freeze? Why would they? That’s more money for themselves and their agenda.

    Students, you are a crop. You produce monetary yields for the pleasure of the administration. Think long and hard about the value of your diploma versus what you pay in tuition.

    Food for thought, if you examine university rankings over the last couple years, OSU has lost a bit of ground, falling from 50 to 54 in the US News Rankings. Not significant? It depends. Will this trend continue? Or will they hold steady at the current ranking.

    Whether you as an individual put stock into such rankings or not, it does influence how people view the University.

    The Ohio Board of Regents needs to intervene. It would be one thing if OSU was a private university, but it’s not. At least not yet.

    PS: More kudos to the Lantern. A great muckraking job that hopefully continues.

  13. The prior comments on this story are spot on and it is very gratifying that everyone sees the dismissal of Director Waters as the sham that it is. Drake and his cohorts are compounding the damage by paying a kings ransom for a CYA report using Alumni contributions! Since Betty Montgomery has blinked, I am sure she is feeling the heat from band alumni. There must be frantic attempts going on to find a way to hide the damning evidence collected in the band member interviews and the hundreds of letters Ms Montgomery says she has read. There is no good ending for this sorry story but the best case scenario is for Drake, Wadsworth and Griffin to resign and Jon Waters be reinstated without dragging this through the courts.

  14. Wake up America!!!!!! Let it go. You and I have no clue of all the things that have gone on. I do know that the great band director . Oops excuse me. The grown man that stood there and watched girls and guys(some under age ) March out in their underwear , he is lucky that being fired is all that happened to him. So what does that say? That is a big problem, a sexual one You act like the University did everything wrong and Waters was right.. He admitted to this, so that makes me wonder what else went on that he did not want to come out with. Imagine if that was your daughter,, granddaughter , son and etc what would you say then? I am going to say, If one thing like the above happened then we need to wait for both sides to come out (two sides to every story) with what they have. Ask yourself this question, have you ever did a bad thing to where you didn’t want others to find out the truth and think bad about you??????? You lied to make it better just for you!!!

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