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Jon Waters agrees to dismiss suits against Ohio State

Former marching band director Jon Waters has agreed to dismiss his lawsuits against Ohio State. Credit: Lantern File Photo

Jon Waters has dismissed his two lawsuits filed against Ohio State after he was fired from his position as the marching band director in 2014, in an agreement reached with the university.

“(Waters) has voluntarily dismissed all of his claims against the university, including all appeals, in exchange for the university not seeking to recover its costs from him, as OSU would be entitled to do as the prevailing party,” OSU spokesman Ben Johnson said in a statement. “The decision by Mr. Waters to terminate his two pending cases leaves in place the prior rulings of the U.S. District Court in Columbus and the Ohio Court of Claims, which both found against Mr. Waters. Ohio State is pleased this litigation is now concluded and all parties can move forward.”

Waters said that while he is glad the legal processes are over, he finds the conclusion to be “bittersweet.”

“From a public relations standpoint the community at large was very much on our side, on my side, through this whole journey and that was gratifying because we had the truth on our side,” Waters said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to tell that truth in front of the courtroom and in front of a jury. From the kind of community and reputational aspect of all this I think everybody knows that i was made the scapegoat and that Ohio State was unfortunately wrong in all this.”

In U.S. District Court, Waters had argued that OSU had discriminated against him based on his gender and he was fired without due process after a university investigation found he was aware or reasonably should have been aware of the band’s “sexualized culture,” and did not do enough to change it. That suit was dismissed by a judge in August.

Waters had separately argued in the Court of Claims that OSU had defamed him and ruined his personal reputation. That suit was dismissed by a judge in July.

“I’ll just say this: the damage to the reputation to the Ohio State band and its alumni has been done,” Waters said. “The damage to my reputation has been done.”

With the legal process now finished, he wished the students and band well.

“I am glad that the event is over, I wish the students at Ohio State the best of luck moving forward,” Waters said. “The band will be great for many years to come and we should all expect that they will do great things, but this is unfortunately a stain on what is otherwise a sterling reputation.”


  1. This puts a close to a really sad situation. Perhaps Maestro Waters should have done more to curb some of the hazing/inappropriate behavior that was going on (and predating his involvement), but it still seems that the situation could have been handled better internally and without dragging reputations through the mud.

    I wish him the best at Heidelberg University.

  2. The University’s actions in this case are despicable. The “sexualized culture” of the band has been present at least since my father was a member of M row from 63-66. I remember him telling us about Roger when we were growing up, and about what the letters “W.B.” meant. I believe these letters are still on a plaque above the ramp entrance to the field at Ohio Stadium. (I haven’t looked recently)

    When I tried out for the band with Jon back in 1996, I had a friend who was graduating, that had the band name “Swallow”. Jon had NOTHING to do with creating or encouraging this culture. In fact, he did his best to walk a thin line balancing the need for change with long-held band traditions. He was absolutely made a scapegoat here, and it is a tragedy that the University lost someone who had such amazing heart and talent for the sake of this B.S.

    This has all been said before, but I think it’s important that people know that Jon Waters continues to be missed.

  3. Once again, OSU Marching Band Director Jon Waters shows himself to be the better man than Drake the Snake. Is Drake even still here? I hear he can hardly come out of his hole, sorry, office, without being confronted by alumni about his criminality in the Jon Waters matter. I am counting the days to be able to say “good riddance” to Drake the Snake. Shame on the Trustees, Governor Kasich and the Ohio Board of Regents for permitting this corrupt Stanford interloper to come to Ohio in the first place.

  4. Looks like Heidelberg University will soon be known as “The Best Band in the Land”. OSU’s loss. A very disturbing action on the part of the University that I have not seen since Coach Earl Bruce was fired for trying to do the right thing.

  5. The band performance since Waters departure has not measured up to the quality of showmanship that has made them famous.

    Too often we hear the same old marches and circle and xes drills. What has happened to the moving formations and exciting music. I am sure the members are just as good and musical, but I think we must need a new “offensive coordinator”.

    They can replace Mr. Waters, but he has turned out to be irreplaceable

  6. The “hazing” ( if you really want to think of it like that) goes on because of students whether band members, athletes, intellectual orgs, etc. and it will continue. OSU will just lose donors and support from many but perhaps it doesn’t matter. Get rid of Drake too. The overly PCness of OSU and attempts to blame one person for everything is a step back…

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