12:58 PM

Ohio State University statement responding to Waters lawsuit

The Ohio State University issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit filed today by lawyers representing former OSU Marching Band Director Jonathan Waters:

The complaint filed earlier today by former employee Jonathan Waters against The Ohio State University lacks both substance and merit.

Ohio State stands strongly behind the decision to terminate Mr. Waters. The hazing and harassment problems that were found to exist in the Marching Band during Mr. Waters’ time as band director, and his more than 10 years as part of the band’s leadership, were not reflective of what this University stands for or tolerates. Jon Waters concealed and shielded the significant cultural problems within the band and took it upon himself to take corrective action. Ultimately, whatever efforts he might have taken were incomplete and ineffective at protecting our students and failed to meet the standards this University has for those responsible for our students. And as such, the University took necessary action to eradicate those problems, including terminating the former director.

Ohio State's fundamental purpose as an academic institution is to foster the scholarly and civic development of all of the University’s students and to protect them by ensuring a safe and secure environment.

Out of respect for our students, alumni and the former director, and to help our current band members move forward, the University has refrained from extended comment on this matter. Now that the former director has chosen to take his allegations to the legal system, however, Ohio State embraces the opportunity to respond to the baseless attacks of the past two months in a forum we know will vindicate the facts and the integrity underlying the University’s decisions. With the support of the Ohio Attorney General, we have retained litigation counsel and together the University stands ready to vigorously defend this lawsuit.

It is regrettable that Waters’ lawyers have chosen to misconstrue the President’s words from a private meeting to garner support for their meritless allegations and personal gain. Dr. Drake proactively reached out to the student leaders of the newly constituted 2014 Marching Band to lift them up and move forward together as a community. He attempted to convey to them that the current student members of the band need not be defined by the culture and actions of the past, so in that sense, the investigation report was “historical” to them.

As President Drake has told the Marching Band on several occasions, including on August 21, 2014, Ohio State is proud of the young men and women in the 2014 Marching Band and is confident that they will continue to grow and enjoy great success, on and off the field, and will continue to represent the best of Buckeye tradition and what this University has to offer.