THE OHIO State Marching Band’s alumni association is battling with the university president because of his dismissal of Jonathan Waters, who had been band director for two years, but Archie Griffin doesn’t agree.
The alumni group asked Griffin, the nation’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner who now heads the university’s overall alumni association, to help them get a meeting with OSU President Michael Drake, but the former football great said he supports Drake’s actions.
It’s true that the elaborate halftime shows at Buckeye football games have resulted in millions of fan views on YouTube, and The Best Damn Band in the Land generated more than $30 million in advertising review for the university last year.
While those definitely are pluses, it doesn’t excuse the loss of human dignity.
Waters’ firing followed a two-month investigation which occurred after the parent of a band member filed a complaint.
The investigation determined the director “knew about, but failed to stop a ‘sexualized’ culture of pranks, tricks and rituals that included students marching half-clad, feigning sex acts on buses and giving each other sometimes sexually explicit nicknames.”
According to the university newspaper, The Lantern, attorney David Axelrod, who represents Waters, said the fired band director was a “‘scapegoat’ because the traditions that a university investigation found created a sexualized environment had been going on for years.
“These were entrenched practices that went on for decades before (Waters) became director, decades before he became a band member and decades before he was born.”
Axelrod told the The (Toledo) Blade that the firing was a shock, adding that “Jon bleeds scarlet and gray. I’m sure you can imagine this was a terrible disappointment to him. But we disagree with the way he has been described, and Jon’s going to fight to clear his good name.”
JUST BECAUSE such activities have gone on for decades, it doesn’t make them right.
Ohio State appears to be taking appropriate steps regarding the band problems with the appointment of Betty Montgomery, former Ohio Attorney General, to lead an independent task force which will review the matter in its entirety.