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COLUMBUS — The fired director of Ohio State’s marching band formally requested his job back on Thursday, citing what he called flaws in a university investigation and a positive performance review weeks before he was terminated.
In a letter to university trustees from his law firm, Jonathan Waters asked the board to act on the matter at its upcoming August meeting.
Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation concluded he knew about, and failed to stop, a “sexualized culture” of rituals that included students marching in their underwear, playing groping games on buses and bestowing sometimes sexually explicit nicknames on members based on suggestive stunts mimicking orgasms, sex toys or body parts.
In an Aug. 4 statement by Board Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth, the trustees said they “unequivocally support” President Michael Drake’s decision to fire Waters. Football great Archie Griffin, as leader of the university’s alumni association, also backed Drake.
Drake said during a packed speech in downtown Columbus on Wednesday that he stood by the firing and saw little chance Waters would be reinstated.
Those remarks came as the university was releasing a Waters personnel file that included praise for his “courageous” efforts to tackle band traditions. The exact traditions being referenced were not named.
In 2012, Waters took over what’s called The Best Damn Band in the Land, writing complex halftime shows that drew millions of views on YouTube.
David Axelrod, Waters’ attorney, portrayed the firing in Thursday’s letter as a “rush to judgment.” The correspondence was accompanied by another round of letters to the university from investigation witnesses and other band members who question the university’s findings.
Among them was Jeanette Town, who wrote that her nickname “Tiggles” was not named for a sex act as the report suggested. She added that a physical act she performed with another female band member was wrongly described as sexual in nature when it was merely a “goofy shimmy” intended to make people laugh.
Drake has said he is protecting students’ right to a safe and welcoming environment.
University spokesman Gary Lewis said Thursday he could not immediately comment because the president’s office had not yet officially received the correspondence.