News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

The Holden Arboretum

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Akron General

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Ousted OSU band director vows to clear his name
The attorney for former music director Jonathan Waters says he was 'wrongfully terminated' over accusations of inappropriate band behavior  

They call themselves the Best Damn Band in the Land, but accusations of inappropriate behavior has led to the firing of OSU band director Jon Waters.
Courtesy of OSU
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

In his two years as director of the OSU Marching Band, Jonathan Waters was praised for using technology to develop complex routines that went viral on the web. Now Jon Waters is out of a job.

OSU fired him after an investigation found what officials call "serious cultural issues."

For Ohio Public Radio, WOSU's Mandie Trimble reports Waters intends to clear his name.

Trimble on ousted OSU band director

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:51)

Investigation uncovers culture of sexual innuendo
Waters’ firing comes after a two month investigation prompted by complaints made by parents of band members. The investigation uncovered sexually explicit activities which appear to have gone for years. 

In an online video statement, Ohio State University President Michael Drake called the findings of the investigation, “profoundly disappointing.”

“Very serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the band creating a hostile environment for students,” says Drake.

Ohio State compliance investigators interviewed nine former or current band members, Waters and other band leaders.

The report details a “tradition” which involved band members marching into the Horseshoe late at night wearing only underwear; a “newsletter” with explicit, disparaging information about band members; “rookie” band members were given sexually-charged nicknames. It also describes drunken, sexually lewd behavior during away games and on buses.

Band director blamed for allowing inappropriate behavior
Investigators concluded band director Jonathan Waters knew or should have known about the activities and failed to eliminate the sexual harassment. The report also states Waters would yell and swear at band members at times.

Drake says, “Even one instance of harassment or hazing or assault is one too many. And though we are not alone among campuses across America facing these issues. This is our home and our responsibility.”

Contacted by phone, Waters declined to comment, but referred us to his attorney - David Axelrod. Axelrod would not be recorded for this story.

Axelrod says Waters was shocked by the termination. He said OSU last week gave Waters a choice: quit or adopt a zero tolerance policy and agree to a cultural assessment of the band.

Axelrod said his client whole-heartedly agreed to cooperate and keep his job.

But Axelrod said university officials called Waters back this week and reneged on their offer, giving Waters another choice - resign or be fired. Axelrod said the university has given no reason for the change in offer.

Waters tried to change OSU band culture
Waters has a long history with the OSU Marching Band. Before he became band director in fall 2012, he was an assistant director. As a student he marched with the band.

Axelrod called Water’s firing “inappropriate” and “unfair,” noting Waters inherited the cultural issues.
In the report, Waters said he took steps to fix the culture. He said he eliminated the underwear march in the ‘Shoe and banned the derogatory “newsletters.”

But when investigators asked Waters why he tolerated sexually-explicit nicknames, he responded with, “Good point.”

Assistant Band Director Christopher Hoch testified “the Marching Band’s culture…is moving in the right direction,” and said, “no one has worked harder to address the culture than Waters.”

And a former band member we talked to, on condition of anonymity, said Waters did make efforts to change the culture and suspended a band member for inappropriate behavior.

OSU resident stands by firing of Waters
But OSU president Drake said the university will move forward with a new band director.  He says, “We must do better.”

Drake says, “Every single student on our campus must be able to learn, to grow and to experience Ohio State in a positive environment.”

The University said it will offer counseling to band members as they need it. And OSU officials say former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery will conduct an assessment of the band’s culture and offer counsel on Title IX compliance.

Axelrod said Waters has been “wrongfully terminated.” He said Waters plans to clear his name, though Axelrod could not say if that means a lawsuit in the future.


Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University