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.