Ohio State Band Controversies

More details have come to light regarding the firing of Ohio State University band director Jonathan Waters, and the university has been criticized from outside sources and members of the band regarding the depth and scope of its investigation.

Waters was fired in late July following an investigation into the culture of the Ohio State marching band, concluding that the band had cultivated a “sexualized culture” that included sexually suggestive nicknames and rituals that Waters allegedly knew about. Waters, however, has contended that he was doing his best to dismantle the culture of the band when he was appointed director.

“The things that were written about in the report seemed incomplete to me. They seemed, in fact, to be things that were vestiges of the past, and they seemed to me to be really inaccurate,” Waters told CBS News.

Waters has asked the university for a public hearing but was denied.

Numerous Ohio State alumni have come forward to defend Waters, contending that the university’s investigation and subsequent response were overreactions. A petition for Waters’ reinstatement currently has the signatures of more than 12,000 alumni. Ohio State responded to Halftime Magazine’s request for comment with a statement emphasizing that the university followed procedures standard for an investigation of this nature, noting that Waters “failed to inform or consult with others regarding the misconduct, as required by University Policy, despite having numerous opportunities to do so” and that he “has yet to produce any factual examples that demonstrate any tangible attempts to change the band culture.”

In the meantime, the university has appointed two interim directors—Russell C. Mikkelson, director of university bands, and Scott A. Jones, associate director of bands. Neither Waters nor his attorney has responded to a request for comment.

About author

Joel King

Joel J. King is an editorial intern at Halftime Magazine. He is a senior at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa seeking a degree in magazine journalism. He marched trumpet with the Howell L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for a year and Palm Beach Gardens High School for four years as the high brass section leader. He has also marched mellophone and trumpet with the USF Herd of Thunder for a year each.