COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio State rejected the latest appeal for reconsideration by its fired marching band director on Wednesday, rejecting Jonathan Waters’ request to schedule a public hearing that would allow him an opportunity to defend his reputation.
In a letter to university officials, Jonathan Waters’ attorney said this “name-clearing hearing” is called for because the university violated due process rights that Waters was guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Attorney David Axelrod said Waters would need about two business days to question university employees sufficiently to restore his reputation.
University spokesman Chris Davey said the issue of Waters’ dismissal will not be revisited.
“It is closed, and it is time to move on,” he said in a statement.
Waters was dismissed July 24 after a two-month university investigation concluded he knew about or reasonably should have known about but failed to stop a “sexualized culture” of rituals within the band that included students marching partially-clad, playing groping games on buses, bestowing sometimes sexually explicit nicknames and publishing lewd newsletters and a songbook.
He had directed what’s known to fans as The Best Damn Band in The Land since 2012. His halftime shows were considered revolutionary and drew millions of hits on YouTube.
University President Michael Drake, who announced the firing, and Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffery Wadsworth have both stood by Waters’ dismissal, resisting vigorous efforts by Waters, his legal team and members of the TBDBITL Alumni Club to have Waters reinstated. His defenders are expected at Friday’s meeting of the university trustees.
Waters had spent most of his adult life in some role with the band, beginning as a student sousaphone player. His supporters contend he had begun working from the inside to improve the culture of the band, believing that student buy-in was the best way to eliminate some of its outdated traditions.
Axelrod told university officials in the letter that the school disseminated its investigation report to the public without giving Waters an opportunity to respond, violating his constitutional rights.
“The report is replete with false, defamatory and stigmatizing statements concerning Mr. Waters, and has wrongfully tarnished his reputation, honor and integrity,” the letter said.
Davey said Waters “was not forthcoming or truthful with university personnel on multiple occasions.” He said certain details released this week by former squad leaders in Waters’ defense “corroborate this dishonesty.”
“We are sensitive to how some current and former band members feel about the leadership change, and we understand that some are now stating that their experience with the band is at odds with what is reflected in the investigative report,” Davey said. “We are encouraged by and appreciate hearing about positive experiences; however, the report’s basic conclusions about the specific complaints and the culture are not refuted by anyone.”
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