Former Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters has asked the university to help him clear his name nearly a month after he was fired. An OSU spokesman, however, said the university will not entertain the idea.
In a two-page letter addressed to OSU counsel that was sent Wednesday, Waters’ attorney David Axelrod requested OSU facilitate a name-clearing hearing for Waters on university property. He asked for the university to provide a public venue for the event.
He also asked for university officials be made available as witnesses Waters could call during the event.
Axelrod said the U.S. Constitution makes OSU obligated to help clear Waters’ name after he was fired without a chance to defend himself. He referred to a court ruling that said a person’s reputation is among the liberty interests protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which says states cannot deny anyone “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
The university, however, denied Axelrod’s request in statement released by OSU spokesman Chris Davey about two hours after Axelrod released his letter.
“We will not be revisiting this decision. It is closed, and it is time to move on,” Davey’s statement read.
Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation into the band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it.
Even though some current and former band members have since come forward saying the final report is at odds with their experience, Davey said basic facts — including charges of sexual nicknames, rookie introductions and alcohol abuse, among others — “are not refuted by anyone.”
Axelrod said, however, OSU is only interested in hearing one side of the story.
“Ohio State has attacked and tarnished Jon’s reputation and all he asks for is an opportunity to respond and defend himself,” Axelrod told The Lantern shortly after Davey’s statement was released. “Apparently, OSU is not interested in fairness.”
Waters said in a Tuesday interview with The Lantern that he had not decided whether he’d sue OSU. Still, Axelrod said if and when Waters pursues legal action, Davey’s response will be part of the litigation.
“The university has acted in clear violation of Jon’s rights under the United States Constitution,” he said.
Both President Michael Drake and OSU Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth previously denied further consideration. If Waters does sue, however, Drake has said the university will be prepared.
The search process for a new director is currently under way. A search committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni will look for a new director, with that individual expected to be named within four to six months.
In the meantime, OSU named two interim directors for the 2014-15 season. University Bands director Russel Mikkelson and associate director Scott Jones will lead the band until a permanent director is selected.
A second investigation into the band’s culture is also under way. That investigation, which is planned to be completed by early October, is being led by former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery and is reporting to Drake and the Board.
It will assess the band culture, review OSU administrative processes and oversight and counsel the university on Title IX compliance issues. Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that aims to protect against discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal funding.
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