Alumni Band Members Push Trustees To Rehire Waters

Former band members play outside the OSU Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.(Photo: Tom Borgerding, WOSU News)
Former band members play outside the OSU Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.(Photo: Tom Borgerding, WOSU News)

Supporters of fired Ohio State University marching band director, Jon Waters, brought their case to OSU trustees today.

Alumni musicians played, other supporters of Waters held signs and sang. The group wants the university’s board to re-instate Jon Waters as director of the marching band. Waters was fired on July 24th, in part, for failing to take timely action to change what was called the band’s “sexualized culture.’ Group spokesman Gary Leppla addressed friday’s meeting.

“We’ve never conceded that this discussion is over. We still think it’s the early chapters in a book,” says Leppla.

Leppla calls the band the “soundtrack of the university.” He told the trustees, too many questions surround the report that lead to Waters’ firing.

“Among the questions, what perfect storm lead to this event that we could never have seen coming,what forces within the university, what departmental issues. We should explore that,” adds Leppla.

Board chair Jeffrey Wadsworth says the university will not re-consider Waters’ firing. He told the group they are welcome to take part in a university inquiry into what was described as the “sexualized” culture of the band.

“I would like to make everyone aware, and I’m sure you are, the president and I did commission a continuing investigation, lead by Betty Montgomery. And any of you who have comments, ideas are welcome,” says Wadsworth.

Wadsworth then adjourned the meeting and the board left the room. A Waters supporter, Mary Ann Kimbro shouted to the trustees as they

“And the fact that you’re walking away is absolutely pitiful,” says Kimbro.

In a written statement, chair Wadsworth writes the OSU trustees are “mindful of the effect” of the dispute. The statement concludes by saying the board is “moving forward.”

Waters was fired after OSU President Michael Drake announced a two-month investigation showed “a culture conducive to sexual harassment” that included a vulgar song book, sexually-charged hazing rituals, and lewd nicknames for band members.

Waters and many former band members say he inherited the culture and was trying to change things when he was fired.

  • enoughalready

    As a proud alumna of The Ohio State University, I really wish these band alumni would let it go already. The whole situation is embarrassing enough without them adding to the foolishness. The fact is, any other student organization would have been kicked off campus for this behavior. Hazing is hazing, even if you don’t have Greek letters emblazoned on your shirt.

    • I12

      It’s so interesting to receive advice from people (enoughalready) who have no knowledge of the situation. We know the situation. You don’t.

      • Esm

        Enough already?? Really?? The university is partaking in double standards and isn’t even admitting to the FACT that their “report” has been ripped to shreds by legal professionals. If I were you I would follow the story more closely if you want to comment. The university you love will never be the same….actually they will continue to take your and others money and use it to pad their pockets as well as their rich friend’s pockets.

    • Manager

      Please get a grip on reality and that is that the university messed up. Those reports are not the facts and it ruined the reputation of TBDBITL and Jon Waters! It’s embarrassing for tOSU Board of Trustees and NOT for the alumni! We just want to see the truth out there so that people like yourself, who obviously believe everything you read, can know the truth! We are not horrible people. STOP BELIEVING THE MEDIA…talk to someone who was/is part of the organization!

    • Buckeye726

      The alumni will “let it go” once the university fixes it’s mistake and takes responsibility for their actions. Until that happens – we aren’t going anywhere.

    • Andy

      Actually, the Ski Club has been caught in much worse behavior than that of the alleged (and in many cases debunked) behavior of the marching band. However, they have been permitted to continue, and have even scribbled sexually explicit advertisements to join their group all over the Oval in chalk. If you don’t think the university is just trying to make a scapegoat out of Jon Waters, you’re only fooling yourself.

    • Anonymous

      Unless I’m mistaken, the report never used the word “hazing” and the university never said he was fired for hazing. When you make the accusation, you belittle the plight of real victims. One of the victims was a drum major at FAMU, which also had a great band. He was killed, and the band only received a one year suspension.

    • HighToppsWife

      Not only are the alumni standing up for Jon Waters, they are standing up for the reputations of the Marching Band members, past and present. As an alumna, you feel it was okay for the university to throw their alumni involved and current students under the bus, damaging their reputations and making them the laughing stock of the internet? If the University damaged your reputation by making public statements such as these again you, would YOU be still saying, “Let it go already?”.

    • C Row

      Please read all sides before you speak. You obviously do not have a clue about the band and its “culture”.

      • Becster

        Thank you WOSU for covering this story. What has been said about this group in the report is not correct and is not indicative of the culture of the band. Something is not right in the administration and this was put out as a distraction. Keep digging please. I want MY University back…

    • Thomas A. Fine

      It’s precisely because I am opposed to “hazing” (or in this case sexual harassment) that I will not let it go. Rather than addressing serious cultural issues on campus, OSU instead chose to scapegoat one of the healthiest cultures on campus, the marching band. This does great harm to legitimate efforts to improve this problem. A Title IX coordinator quit her job because the University was doing such a poor job at addressing these issues, and she has publicly stated that she was blocked by her superiors from providing the services and information to the band and other groups that they were owed.

      See for more information.

  • M8

    Thank you WOSU for covering this event! We need for people to know the truth about the Band culture and not just read headlines. We encourage everyone to talk to Band alumni and hear the truth.

  • never say die

    Thank you WOSU for not being afraid to cover this! It is imperative that this story keeps being reported on until all truths come out!

  • Susan Fajcsi Crum

    Thank you for covering this WOSU. People need to know the truth!

  • IStandWithJon

    Thank for covering WOSU. “The fact is” that this happens in many activities. Let’s discuss Ski Club, cheerleading and behvior in co-ed dorms, for a start.

  • enoughalready

    Please read this exceprt below from the excellent website – – and get your heads out of the sand. There is a culture of hazing and harrassment in the band. Waters was complicit in that culture. The band, which by the way receives MILLIONS of dollars from the university each year, is not above the law. We all love TBDBITL. But it’s like being a parent – you have to discipline your children sometimes. Not only do I agree with the board’s decision, but I feel they did not go far enough. The students involved should have been disciplined, as well – and the band should be on probation right now. We may not be as vocal as the band alumni, but rest assured there are more alumni out there like me who support the board’s decision and wish the band would take its medicine and do whatever it takes to fix this dysfunctional culture.


    HAZING is any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.

    If you’re not sure whether or not something happening to you or to someone else is hazing, ask yourself these questions:

    Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents were watching?

    Would we get in trouble if a school/college administrator walked by and saw us?

    Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?

    Am I doing anything illegal?

    Does participation in this activity violate my values or those of this organization?

    Is this causing emotional or physical distress or stress to myself or to others?