TBDBITL Alumni Club said they approve of conclusions found by a second cultural investigation into Ohio State’s marching band, but think the investigation’s report should have been issued prior to the 2014 marching band season, according to a Monday release from the club.
Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery was appointed by President Michael Drake and the Board of Trustees to lead the Marching Band Culture Task Force in July. It was commissioned to conduct an assessment of the OSU Marching Band’s culture and to review the university’s oversight of the band.
The task force was also asked to provide counsel on Title IX compliance issues. Title IX states schools that receive federal funding cannot discriminate against people based on gender.
Montgomery’s report was released in November. The task force focused on a five-year timeframe — from 2009 to 2014 — because the band experienced a change in leadership during this time. Five years is also the maximum amount of time (with a few exceptions) that a student can be a member of the band, the Montgomery report said.
Throughout its investigation, the task force interviewed 185 current and former band members and staff who worked with the band from 2009 through 2014, the report said. The task force also based its report on an online survey made available to band members, independent correspondence in the form of letters and documents “relevant to the band and its director.”
Still, the alumni club said the Montgomery Report could have further investigated university administrative deficiencies.
“Although the Montgomery Report contains illustrations of identifiable deficiencies in the University’s Office of Compliance and Integrity, the criticism and commentary offered is minimal,” the release said. “Accordingly, a valuable opportunity to address University-wide issues and administrative deficiencies was pre-empted and avoided.”
The alumni club also argued against some claims made in the Montgomery report regarding alumni’s influence on the task force investigation.
The Montgomery report said some members of the OSU Marching Band staff and alumni club allegedly “attempted to directly influence the Task Force’s findings through multiple communications with both its membership and current band members” through emails and a digital “guide” for individuals interested in sending the task force letters.
The alumni club disagreed with these findings.
“It should also be noted that allegations that the alumni of the Marching Band in any fashion ‘interfered’ with the work of the Task Force are misplaced,” the release said.
Even though the investigation found the band contains a “culture of excellence, hard work and espirit de corps,” the Montgomery report included 37 recommendations to correct issues the task force identified during its investigation, including eliminating certain band traditions and creating more effective oversight.
The alumni club approved of many of the recommendations, including one that suggested the use of rookie nicknames be reinstituted, the release said.
Although nicknames were banned after a previous investigation into the band’s culture, the task force found they were still being used in secret. The task force recommended nicknames be permitted as long as they are reviewed by the compliance officer, and students using unapproved nicknames should receive disciplinary measures, the report said.
OSU spokesman Chris Davey said the university is in the process of reviewing the 37 recommendations.
“(We) welcome the input of those who are interested in working with us to address the significant problems that the report identifies,” Davey said in a Monday email.
The release concluded with a request from the alumni club to OSU to “share the results of (the Montgomery) report and engage in conversation with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, with respect to Title IX compliance …”
The alumni club also asked that the university reinstate Waters.
Waters, an OSU Marching Band alumus who served as the band’s director from 2012 to 2014, was fired after a two-month OSU investigation determined the band’s culture contained an environment conducive to sexual harassment. It determined Waters was either aware of, or reasonably should have been aware of, that culture, but didn’t do enough to address it or prevent it from happening.
Waters said Tuesday he agrees with findings in the Montgomery report and the alumni club’s response, and thinks both documents show that the OSU Marching Band was “underserved” by the university.
“All of the recommendations that Betty Montgomery made in her report speak to the underservice, the lack of resources, that were provided to the band,” he said. “I applaud the alumni band’s efforts to set the records straight. Those recommendations that (Montgomery) made are the exact recommendations that I have been making in my time as director. I am just sorry that the university did not give me time to complete that mission.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated with Jon Waters’ statement Dec. 23.