TBDBITL Alumni Club’s law review chair, Gary Leppla, said at a press conference Friday not only should former band director Jon Waters be reinstated, but the report and subsequent firing of Waters hurt band members and alumni and opened them to humiliation.
“Because of this report, we have reached certain conclusions. Jon Waters should be immediately reinstated, there should be a full, fair, independent investigation,” Leppla said at a press conference Friday.
The Ohio State band alumni association announced the results of their investigation into former band director Jon Waters’ firing at a press conference at the Fairfield Inn on Olentangy River Road Friday afternoon.
Waters was fired July 24 from his post as marching band director.
The report also called for independent control of the band. Currently, the band is controlled by the School of Music, but the alumni group said there were too many differences between the band’s culture as a military band to be involved in marching band affairs. Leppla added their investigation turned up possible jealousy led to Waters’s firing as well.
“There are issues involving who should control the marching band…We think there’s a natural rivalry between the School of Music situation and the marching band,” Leppla said.
During the conference, Leppla, along with current TBDBITL Alumni Club’s president Brian Golden, former president Shelly Graf, and director emeritus Paul Droste, commended Waters for his work and additional funds he raised for the band.
According to Leppla and Golden, Waters raised an additional $46 million while band director, in part because of contracts with Apple.
They also cited multiple times when Waters helped tear down destructive band culture. While Golden was in the band, he had a nickname, but said he liked the nickname and wasn’t called by it that often. He said the nickname didn’t deter him from becoming alumni president.
“Leading the fight for Jon Waters, it’s, ‘Rudy, Rudy, Rudy,” he said. “If that’s the only name they know who I am, so be it.”
Golden was given the nickname because he was “five feet nothing and played a big instrument,” but didn’t specify which instrument he played.
However, Leppla added the nicknames were not ok, and he was glad Waters forbade the practice in 2012.
“To be direct, just because some women aren’t offended by those nicknames doesn’t mean it’s ok. Nobody’s saying that,” Leppla said. “But we don’t have an instance where someone was saddled with an nickname they didn’t want.”
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it was ending its four-year probe into Ohio State’s handling of sexual violence. Included in that report was a compliment on the investigation into the band culture, according to the U.S. Deptartment of Education’s website. Leppla said the investigation may have had something to do with what the club viewed as a rushed report and sudden firing.
According to the Associated Press, Ohio State has denied its actions against Waters were an attempt to placate the federal investigation and declined to comment on the report.
Waters plans to march with TBDBITL alumni tomorrow at their annual reunion march according to an interview with The Lantern.
“I’m there to support the students and to support the alumni band members, and to really trumpet the true culture of the band,” Waters said. “The alumni band members… it’s a family. Those are the true tangible and demonstrable part of the band culture, and that’s what we want to show at Ohio Stadium.”
Logan Hickman contributed to this report.