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Jon Waters files second lawsuit against Ohio State

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Former Ohio State marching band director Jon Waters filed a second lawsuit against OSU on May 8. Credit: Lantern file photo

Former Ohio State marching band director Jon Waters filed a second lawsuit against OSU on May 8. Credit: Lantern file photo

Former Ohio State marching band director Jon Waters filed a second lawsuit against OSU on Friday, this time accusing the university of defaming him and ruining his personal and professional reputation.

Waters and his lawyers filed the lawsuit in the State of Ohio Court of Claims. They presented the former director’s argument in a 32-page document that explained the circumstances surrounding Waters’ firing and how the decision has impacted his personal life, as well as his search for future employment.

Waters is seeking $3 million in damages — $1 million for each of the three claims he makes in the document: false light invasion of privacy, defamation and slander per se.

In the documents filed on Friday, Waters and his lawyers put an emphasis on an investigation into the band overseen by Chris Glaros, assistant vice president of compliance operation and investigations for the Office of Compliance and Integrity.

The two-month investigation determined there was a sexualized band culture and that Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it. That investigation led to Waters’ firing on July 24.

In the defamation lawsuit, Waters and his lawyers argued that the investigation’s report was “incomplete, skewed, rife with material omissions and distorted more likely to appease the Department of Education than to afford basic fairness to Waters,” and that OSU “through its trustees, officers and employees” ignored this fact and instead used details in the report to cast a false light on Waters.

“As a direct and proximate result of Dr. Drake’s and other OSU trustees’, officers’ and employees’ slander, Waters has suffered and is continuing to suffer humiliation, frustration, sleeplessness and great mental anguish, and other money damages and special damages,” the document stated.

In the document, Waters and his lawyers also said they want the court to find that Drake, Glaros and OSU spokesman Chris Davey “acted with malicious purpose, in bad faith or in a wanton and reckless manner and should be held personally liable for (their) statements and actions.”

The Glaros report and the university’s subsequent decision to publish it, as well as a video statement from Drake and a partial recording of an interaction between Waters and a band member that Waters was unaware of, led to an “avalanche of negative publicity,” Waters and his lawyers said in the document.

They added that OSU has since embarked on a “continued campaign to destroy Waters’ reputation,” which is evidenced, they said, by Waters’ lack of job offers following his termination.

“Waters sought new employment by applying for over forty different positions with college and high school marching bands. Despite his previous renown as one of the best marching band directors in the United States, Waters has received no job offers as a result of OSU’ s false and misleading statements about him,” the document said. “Waters has reason to believe that OSU continues to disparage him with other potential employers as well, thereby severely impacting his ability to secure gainful employment.

The second lawsuit comes two weeks after U.S. District Court Judge James Graham ruled that Waters has a legal basis to sue OSU for “reverse sexual discrimination” but threw out other complaints, which included Waters’ assertion that OSU did not give him due process when he was fired.

In an emailed statement, OSU said it is prepared to fight both lawsuits.

“This new filing only confirms that Mr. Waters’ claims in federal court and his lawsuit there are without merit and failing,” the statement said. “Ohio State stands firmly behind the actions taken regarding Mr. Waters’ termination and will vigorously defend this lawsuit as it has his first one in federal court.”

In his first lawsuit, Waters sued for a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages, in addition to seeking punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement.


  1. Finally! This is the suit that we have been looking for, and we can’t wait for the disclosures that will go with it. It also sets the groundwork for similar suits from the students individually defamed in the Glaros “Report”, and even the TBDBITL Alumni. It should also send SeekTU_Buckeye and his cohorts into another conniption fit. Delicious!

  2. Go away, Jon Waters. You tarnished our great university and your attempts to play the victim are pathetic. The victims are the countless students who experienced pain and humiliation because of you. Stop making things worse. Nobody should feel sorry for you.

  3. Bill Armstrong

    Seek….. , You’ve changed your name again. Haha. Everyone knows who is responsible for
    “Tarnishing” a great band and ruining a good man. As far as the public is concerned the university has acted shamefully and they are rooting for Jon Waters. I also find it interesting that the 2 or 3 people like you all go by a fake name. If you really believe what you are spouting why not use your real name? Maybe you are afraid of being named in a lawsuit yourself? You are right Buckeyeparent. another conniption fit. More lawsuits coming. OSU is losing millions in donations and spending a ton on lawyers. Remember “It ain’t over til it’s over”.

  4. Angry Fake Alumni

    Ramble, ramble, rambale, blind loyalty. I will never donate to OSU because I can’t critally look at this situation outside of blind loyalty towards the band.. Never again OSU, I havent visted or donated to the campus in 15 years and I will hold this carrott over your head forever.

    -Love, former band member who never met Waters C/O 1932

  5. SeekTU_buckeye

    I believe everyone could have handled themselves better, including the university. OSU has not done itself many favors from a public relations standpoint. However, I don’t believe their actions constitute anything illegal. The accusations will now be looked at in a court, and an impartial party will make a legal judgement.

    Saying OSU is tarnishing his reputation will be hard to prove.

    Getting offered a job through the interview process in the music world is no small feat, and there are several factors involved (organizational, teaching, reputation and record with administrators and colleagues, overall fit for that particular job at that particular school, etc. …) No one is guaranteed success at interviews or applications at other schools.

    If a director fails to acknowledge the severity of a culture issue within the band, it is a problem. Even if they attempt to make positive changes, they should be sounding the alarm in a much bigger way, rather than appeasing it for slow change so they may not jeopardize the positive performance results, AND to prevent those aspects needing “dire need of change” from becoming public.

    If a director sounds the alarm early on, to students, alumni, parents, administrators , up to the top… they can distance themselves from the negative actions and emerge as a better leader. It is a risk, but the risk that they take by NOT doing that leads to the situation we see now. Knowing of these things as a student, an assistant, and a head director and trying to keep it hush hush… within the band while making changes, is simply opening yourself up to be fired it if is found out through other channels.

    Now that it came out, the fact that OSU published their reports is simply transparency. They are doing what directors should have done for years. Exposing it so it can be stopped.

    A director should take the example of Jim Tressel, and say…. “Yes I’m disappointed, I wish I would have done a few things differently,” and then go on to build their life up to bigger and better things. If they say they would do everything exactly the same…. if they apply to their old job and on the application not acknowledge any mistakes, saying they would continue to do everything they were doing, attempting to convince that everything they did was the right thing to do…. it shows a laps in judgement.

    That judgement, the inability to realize they should have acknowledged the severity of the culture prior to a Title IX investigation, is the biggest red flag to future employers. If they keep fighting that realization, and dig in deeper, through public media interviews and lawsuits, it hurts themselves more and more.

    Now, if it turns out that some administrator from OSU has gone out of their way to contact Washington U, or other employers and proactively badmouth Mr. Waters, then I will agree that that is wrong. However, the claim made regarding this in the lawsuit is very vague. It doesn’t give specific names or positions of people at OSU, and it is likely that Washington contacted OSU references as a standard part of any hiring process to ask questions much more detailed regarding particulars of the job.

    I really do hope Mr. Waters turns things around for himself. I think he has potential for success in much bigger ways.

  6. So now SeekTU_Buckeye switches his attacks on Waters and the OSUMB to a sickeningly condescending tone. He must be slipping, this change of tenor ill becomes him – he was at least consistent when he was simply blackguarding Waters and the Band members and Alumni. However, he still fails to understand that the basic premise from which he operates is fundamentally flawed – there was no “severity of a culture issue in the Band”. That was fabricated by Glaros and his cronies, and this suit will show the rest of the world just how malicious this creation was. The rest of Seek’s paragraphs are so patronizingly ill-conceived that they should serve as a model of how not to extricate your own foot from your mouth.
    As to Waters needing to be like Jim Tressel, the regrettable fact it that it was not Prior and co. that cost Tressel his job, it was being less than truthful about what he knew and when. He may well have taken the fall for someone else in doing so, but this is still way beyond anything Waters has done.
    I am sure Jon Waters takes great comfort in knowing that SeekTU thinks he has “potential for success”. I would have thought that directing the best college marching band in the country, garnering millions of YouTube views for his show, being marveled at in papers and on TV around the world, not to mention earning $30M from Apple for his innovations, probably indicates that he has already been a major “success”, and to a level that SeekTU and his adherents can only dream of.

  7. SeekTU,
    You’re a moron. Out of all the cultures at Ohio State, the band had one of the least threatening and believe otherwise is idiotic at best and heartless at worst. The bureaucratic culture that controls OSU is much worse and so is the Greek Culture and hell, let’s throw in the drinking culture that happens just east of High St. Has anyone been fired for these threatening cultures? NO.

    In the past 5 years there have been ZERO Title IX complaints about the band filed with the Dept of Education. The DoE was investigating the university, specifically the Medical Center, the Athletic Dept, and off campus incidents. The band was the sacrificial lamb to pay for the sins of the idiot bureaucrats in charge of OSU. End of story.

    Oh, and I have no affiliation with the band. I am, unlike you, a rational, objective observer.

  8. Jon Waters, please read

    JW, man to man, the university screwed you over and that is really unfortunate. Just stop, seriously. Your university that you love has thrown you under the bus. Continuing to fight this is doing nothing but making your reputation go down further. I hope OSU settles with you out of court so that you can get the money you deserve so that you can take it and begin a new chapter in your life. I want justice, vengeance, a name clearing ceremony, the whole 9 and some change for you because you deserve it but get your name out of the public so that you can have the chance to really provide for your family, have a career and be able to get back to doing what you do best: Working with Young People.

    All in love for you, drop the lawsuit or pray that they settle with you out of court.

    Some random guy, ’78

  9. So......I'm Back

    This whole thing is getting sad ———> everyone messed up. I agree with SeekTU_Buckeye and whoever the guy who just posted said. I think most people are tired of hearing about this and OSU should give this man some money so he can go away. The longer JW keeps his name out in the public, the worse and harder it is going to be for him to find a job ANYWHERE. Forget finding something in the music field, most places would not want to hire him.

    I am really starting to feel bad for the guy and even more for his family.

    C’mon OSU, give the man his money and officially call it done and give him all of it. $3 million should be enough to provide for his family, pay off his court fees and start over somewhere else. Hopefully they can wish the guy well so that he can move on with his family, the band can move on and the university can do whatever it is they do.

  10. New to the situation

    Honest question: Has anyone come out and flat out say that everything that Mr. Waters and the OSUMB is being accused of is not true at all?

    In the report it talks about a songbook, some midterm test, bus ride activities, nicknames, etc. (all with documented proof) but I haven’t read anywhere that says that all of this never happened (i.e. Someone with a press conference and completely deny, renounce that everything in the report is even remotely true). Or maybe it is somewhere and I haven’t found it (there is entirely too much written about this to read in a day).

    I am not taking sides and I am completely new to the situation so I just need some clarity….maybe a current band member can chime in on this and help me out.

  11. Not new to the situation

    New to the situation…you are asking the wrong question. You should ask which of these, if any, created a hostile environment or a sexualized culture (which I still find as a ridiculous phrase – compared to what??). Also where any of these illegal, where did the occur, and which of these items could a band director know about or control? I would suggest skipping over the glaros report which is a sensationalized piece of trash not worth the paper it was printed on. The Betty Montgomery report and TBDBITL alumni club reports give a much more accurate description of the band.

  12. Jon needs to purchase the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack and listen to ‘Let It Go’.

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