Ousted Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters broke his silence following his termination in late July after appearing on two national television shows Tuesday morning. He ultimately said he’d like his job back.
“I love Ohio State and I would love an opportunity to work with the university to improve the culture,” Waters said during a live interview on “Today” when asked if he would seek reinstatement.
Waters said the investigation that ultimately lead to his firing was one-sided and inaccurately portrayed the culture of the band during a pre-recorded interview with “Good Morning America.”
“The fact that this report makes that the culture is some type of ‘Animal House’ fraternity is just not accurate,” Waters said. “I think I was a victim of a rush to judgement and a very inaccurate report.”
Waters was fired in late July after a two-month OSU investigation into a complaint from a band member’s parent found “serious cultural issues and an environment conducive to sexual harassment within the marching band,” according to an OSU statement. The administration found that Waters was either aware of or reasonably should have been aware of that culture but did not do enough to address it.
A few examples of issues listed in the report include an annual band practice in Ohio Stadium that Waters attended where students were expected to march in only their underwear, sexually explicit nicknames that were given to new band members and quizzes that were given to new band members with sexually explicit questions.
“I was aware and I took great steps to eliminate them…we have eliminated all of those things,” Waters said on “Today.” “We have eliminated the ‘midnight ramp,’ we have eliminated the rookie quizzes. Let me be very clear that harassment of any type is not tolerated and should not be tolerated and we have, as a staff and as a leadership team, taken steps to eliminate those behaviors.”
Although Waters did not directly answer if he’d seek legal action against the university on “Today,” he and his attorney said they haven’t considered what, if any legal steps to take, The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
“It’s not my action to take to reverse the dismissal,” he said during the Dispatch interview. “I am here telling my story, and I am here to set the record straight after the report was issued. And those decision-makers will have to come to that conclusion.”
Meanwhile, OSU named two interim directors Monday.
OSU spokesman Gary Lewis did not say whether the university has considered reinstating Waters when asked in a Tuesday email. He instead provided a document that restated previously released facts about the investigation.
That document noted the marching band is not a club or organization, but an academic course that offers credit. The document also said OSU could have potentially lost federal funding if Waters had not been promptly fired after initial complaints listed in the investigation were made, because of Title IX.
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.
Despite multiple public records requests, Lewis had not provided updates on the status of band leadership employment records, interim leadership salary information and further details regarding the search for a permanent director as of Tuesday morning.
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