COLUMBUS — The Ohio State University Marching Band director Jon Waters was fired from his position after a recent review of the band’s culture and practices “revealed conduct by members of the band and staff that is inconsistent with the University’s values and Title IX requirements,” a statement from the university said.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our students,” said The Ohio State University President Michael Drake. “We expect every member of our community to live up to a common standard of decency and mutual respect and to adhere to university policies.”
The university said an investigation determined Waters was aware or should have known about “serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the Marching Band,” and that he did not eliminate it or prevent its recurrence.
However, Columbus Attorney David Axelrod, who is representing Waters, said, “Jon is a fine person who attempted to do the right thing at every turn, but was unable to quickly eradicate things that preceded his arrival by years or even decades.”
Axelrod said Waters had only officially had the job since Feb. 2013.
The statement from OSU says that in addition to finding a new director, the university “has taken additional steps to ensure that change is swift and impactful.” Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery has been appointed to lead an independent task force. She will report to the school’s president and board chairman in a full review of the situation.
The task force will also include nationally-recognized experts:
• Ernst & Young, which will conduct an investigatory review.
• Sports Conflict Institute, which will conduct an independent review of the Ohio State Band culture.
• Outside counsel to provide guidance on Title IX compliance.
The statement also said: “At this time, the Ohio State Marching Band season will continue under new leadership and steps are being taken to swiftly identify an interim band director. Additional training and guidance will be developed with new band leadership to create a proper culture, and nurturing environment.”
Waters’ attorney would not say what their next step is, only that, “One way or another Jon will fight to clear his good name. He loves OSU and bleeds scarlet and gray but will not allow his alma mater to take away his good name.”
The Ohio State University Marching Band is popular to fans all over the country, and has also been a social media sensation. Video of their halftime shows regularly go viral, getting millions of views on YouTube. Those include a rendition of the Gettysburg Address and a performance of Hollywood Blockbusters.
For the university’s full statement, click here.