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Ohio State band director search to take longer than expected

OSU Marching Band members play during a game against Kent State on Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 66-0. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

OSU Marching Band members play during a game against Kent State on Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 66-0.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

The search for Ohio State’s next band director will take longer than the school originally announced.

The university said in a September release that a search committee planned to select the new leader within four to six months, or by mid-February.

The new director will be selected once the school has “identified a world-class leader” for its “world-class band,” OSU spokesman Chris Davey said in a Friday email when asked when the name will be announced.

He said the selection was slowed last semester because two current band members and the interim director are involved in the search, and the football season caused time constraints.

The search committee has received more than 25 applications and has considered others based on committee recommendations, Davey said.

Former director Jonathan Waters applied to the position as well. Davey said in a separate email that he couldn’t say whether Waters will be considered because he can’t comment on the specific candidates of an open employment search.

Waters was fired in July after an OSU investigation found the band contained an entrenched sexualized culture and Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of it.

Members of the search committee include:

  • Scott Jones, associate director of University Bands and associate professor of music
  • Ted McDaniel, professor of African American and African studies and professor of music
  • Deborah Larsen, associate dean of the College of Medicine and director of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences – former member of the athletic council and recommended by University Senate secretary Tim Gerber, who is affiliated with the School of Music
  • Jeffrey Jordan, chief financial officer of the Ohio High School Athletic Association and treasurer of the Ohio State University Alumni Association Board of Directors – former band member and member of the TBDBITL Alumni Society
  • Diana Sabau, senior associate director of athletics
  • Two student members of the current OSU Marching Band: Lindsay Conkel and David Pettit


  1. This is just silly PR nonsense. The reason the search cannot go ahead is that Waters’ law suit is still before the judge, and a ruling on whether the case can or cannot go forward is not due until next month. After that, if the suit goes ahead, it could be many months before it is resolved. In the meantime, no potential director of the stature that this position demands would leave his or her current position to come to OSU, knowing that it is possible that a court might rule that Waters be re-instated. That is why this process is stalled. In the meantime, the time of year when next season’s shows are decided upon and created is fast approaching, with no leadership in place. Nice job, OSU.
    I think we will likely see another year of interim Director while all this plays out. How much simpler this would be had President Drake not jumped in with both feet in his first three weeks at OSU.

  2. When most OSU jobs get 100s of applicants…doesn’t getting only “more the 25” suggestion the administration has somehow mishandled this?

  3. Michael Drake is also probably trying to delay the release of his concealed personal financial holdings until after the Waters whitewash has been perfected. Where are the Lantern investigators in demanding all these trustees and officers like Steinmetz, Wadswotth, Fischer, Blatti and Mikkelson come clean about their personal financial conflicts of interests? There are big devils in those details.

  4. Yes! More band news and crying about the ex-director who could do no wrong. Accompanied by guy that complains others make too much money in the capitalist America. I had wanted this to end, but now I find it endlessly amusing how you waters fans just do give up. I hope you pour this same piss and vinegar into your careers. Carry on!

  5. Word on the street is that the University has removed Jon Waters’ name from the list of applicants for the position of Director of the OSUMB. This in spite of the fact that there is no director of a top class marching band applying for the job – seemingly just a string of associate directors of other bands. Is there no end to this institution’s calumny and vindictiveness?

  6. I doubt the court will be able to do anything that will result in forcing OSU to reinstate Jon Waters. Once the lawsuit is thrown out or cleared up, hopefully Mr. Waters will be able to move on. Having a former director pining for his job and rallying alumni creates a very difficult environment for any new director which is one reason to expect a low number of applicants.

  7. SeekTU_buckeye There have been multiple court decisions that have required academic institutions and school boards to re-instate teachers the court thinks were improperly terminated, so it can happen. This is not about Waters “pining” for his job, as you so condescendingly put it, it is about correcting the unsubstantiated smear that the administration and Board of Trustees have perpetrated on the members of the OSU Marching Band, all its alumni, and its Director. That is where the burden of responsibility lies for the situation with this unnecessary search for a new Director, and it is not Waters’ responsibility to step aside to make their life easier. The overwhelming majority of the students, alumni, and public align against the University on this, so correcting the “environment” should rest in Bricker Hall, not with Waters.

  8. Correct, Mr. Waters has no responsibilities.

  9. Wait. . .let me get this straight. . Jon Waters poisoned the water for the next director? Really? I’m thinking, no. I’m thinking that the risk of being fired for the behavior of your adult students on their own time is what’s keeping quality people away. Because. . .come on. . .who would want to walk into THOSE kind of expectations, given the precedent that Ohio State has set here? This whole aspect of the situation serves to further demonstrate how RIDICULOUS Ohio State has been with this.

    People say, “hire someone new and just move on”. Oh yeah? Is the greatness of TBDBITL simply passed on from class to class via osmosis? Close proximity? Accidental contamination? NO!! There is vision from the top, innovation and leadership that must be as exceptional as the student who execute it all. Does Ohio State win as many football games when they have a lousy football coach? No! It’s almost the same thing with the band (but really it’s true for any organization). THAT is why what Drake and company have done with the handling of this is potentially SO DAMAGING!

  10. When the previous director is on a campaign for his old job back, one that includes appearances on local and national television… yes that contributes to an atmosphere of a job you wouldn’t want to deal with.

    The real poisoning of the water of the situation is the actions of the band members for the past 30+ years that created the presence of a destructive and inappropriate sub-culture connected with the marching band. One that was not appropriately addressed by the directors including Mr. Waters. The positive aspects of what the band does not outweigh those actions and atmosphere.

    Because the alumni do not feel the punishment fits the crime, they deny the existence of the sub-culture. Even Mr. Waters says, it was in dire need of change. His solution was to fix it slowly. But if anything would have happened once these incidents were publicly exposed, the University would have been liable for choosing a gradual change. A clean break from top leadership was appropriate… and Mr. Waters fighting this is giving false hope to deluded followers.

    If Mr. Waters cared about the band and the school more than himself, he would move on and welcome new leadership in a positive way. In the long run, his actions are forcing even more distance for himself from the group and university.

  11. Seek TU,

    So is the band all fixed now? Mr Waters had been in charge for two years and was making changes to the culture but this was not fast enough. Since one year of marching band has been complete all of the ills should now be taken care of, right? All song books destroyed, no more marching in underware, no more horrible nicknames. Are you sure those things are not just further underground now? Now we can address all of the other students that are binge drinking and watching 50 shades of grey.

  12. When a director loses his job because of that behavior, one would hope the group would get the picture to knock it off. The approach of slow change of the behavior that created a hostile environment means you are tolerating it for eventual improvement, rather than giving a clear picture of it being unacceptable.

    If you are saying those activities are still going on, and if that is found to be true… meaning it cannot be controlled by faculty, then the whole group will likely be suspended for a period of time.

    From what has been publicized of events at the Sugar Bowl, some students were disciplined and kicked out of the band for their behavior. That’s an indication behavior is dealt with quickly.

  13. SeekPU,

    As long as Drake continues to display his stupidly, the university will lose financial support. I get emails begging for contributions every week. The latest scam was an “offer” to order 2014 season football tickets. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  14. To all of you talking about Jon Waters and the possibility of him getting his job back: you people are just flat out wrong because of one simple fact. HE LIED! He blatantly lied to investigators when they were conducting their investigation last summer. They caught him in the act and were able to prove that he lied to them not once but multiple times. For that and the fact that he was an at-will employee gives them every right to do what they did. Does that mean I agree with it? No, it doesn’t. But my opinion doesn’t change the facts. He lied, and now, right or wrong he is paying for it.

    To those of you talking about how OSU messed up so bad that only lowly assistant and associate directors are applying for this job: Think about it this way: If you’ve got your own gig at another big time university that you’ve spent years making into your own program, why would you leave? Just because it’s the all mighty OHIO STATE marching band? No. Why? Because, NEWSFLASH outside of Columbus OH there are bigger things than the OSU Marching Band. It is not the end all and be all for everyone.

    I know this is very blunt, but it’s true. I’m an alum of both the Band and Ohio State and I’m sick and tired of everyone being blind to the truth. I don’t care what side of the fence you fall on, I don’t care how much you care about this group, it’s time that we were all objective about this. The Bottom line is that whoever the new director is will need all the support they can get. The STUDENTS of the OSU band will need all the support they can get in 2015. It’s time for people to stop living in the past, accept the fact that things are changing and get over it.

    Personally, based on the committee, I have full confidence that the right person will be chosen helm the Ohio State Marching AND Athletic Band program.

  15. Anonymous… good for you.

    Also.. how University systems work, associate directors are usually the ‘head’ directors of marching bands. The head director oversees the entire bands program, but usually is in charge of the top wind ensemble and graduate level conducting courses. Thus, it is expected for those interested in marching band positions, ones with experience, to be associate directors at other universities.

  16. Also,

    When interviewing for a full-time tenured track position, the final step usually includes a short interview with the university president. (This may or may not be the case at OSU because of size). But that would be an absurd scene, of Mr. Waters speaking to President Drake about the job, while he is actively suing with Drake’s personal name as a defendant.

    The fact that Mr. Waters says he can separate the lawsuit from the application for the job, is the same way he can separate the positive influences of the band from the hostile environment aspects of the band. Furthering the reason he should not be in charge.

  17. The paid anti-Waters/band Astroturfers are too much. All this feigned haughtiness is so transparently fake. Nobody goes on and on in favor of the lawlessness and mistreatment that the band has suffered unless they’re paid. Go back to California. Wait, that’s where you are now. Where are your financial disclosures Mr. Drake? No amount of Astroturfing can relieve you of your ethical duty to disclose.

  18. Hey Buckey,

    You can say and believe whatever you want. Newsflash, in the real world, you know, like this one, some people really don’t give a shit about Jon Waters. I don’t care what you say. I will always love this band, I will always love the memories I have and the people I met while being a part of it. BUT, there was a lot of crap that went on that was questionable and/or not okay. Sorry to burst your bubble but in reality he did absolutely nothing. When he became director he should have put his foot down on a lot but he didn’t. He was more interested in being liked than doing what was actually right for the students. That’s not how a real leader acts. Call me some “paid anti-waters/band astroturfer” all you want, that still won’t change my opinion. And guess what? I’m not even paid for my opinion! Man, I’d love to live in a world like that! But like I said, you can believe whatever you want but I’m sorry, I can’t change stupid.

    To SeekTU,

    Thank you for actually providing accurate information. I’m sorry that a lot of people will refuse to believe what you say, but you are spot on in my opinion.

    -It’s about the Students not the man.

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