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Ohio State Fires Band Director Over 'Sexualized' Traditions

Ohio State University announced it has fired marching band director Jonathan Waters after an investigation uncovered "sexualized" culture.
Posted at 11:32 AM, Jul 25, 2014

​Ohio State University announced Thursday it has fired its marching band director after an internal investigation uncovered a "sexualized" culture among the band members. (Via Getty Images)

"Jonathan Waters had led the band since 2012. A two-month investigation revealed bad behavior including band members marching in underwear, sexually charged skits and harassment Waters failed to put an end to." (Via Fox News)

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the investigation was triggered by a parent's complaint, and it uncovered a "sexual culture" that has apparently existed among band members for years.

The outlet obtained a copy of the 23-page report, which is broken into three parts. It cites several examples of abuse, including band members posing in sexual positions during bus rides, assigning new members obscene nicknames and a practice of marching at midnight wearing only underwear. (Via The Columbus Dispatch)

Ohio State President Michael Drake said in a statement the university will abide by a zero-tolerance policy for behavior like this moving forward.

"Even one instance of harassment or hazing or assault is one too many. And though we are not alone among campuses across America facing these serious issues, this is our home and our responsibility." (Via The Ohio State University)

Waters' dismissal came as a huge blow to the Ohio State marching band, which has been nationally recognized for its traditions and routines.

And Waters definitely contributed to its legacy — he started using iPads instead of paper, which helped the 225-person band to morph into intricate patterns and shapes on the field during halftime shows. Their tributes to movies and Michael Jackson made headlines last fall. (Via Getty Images, Deadspin, The Huffington Post)

The technological advancement even landed the band a spot in an Apple commercial earlier this year.

JONATHAN WATERS: "You know, truly, to stand in front of our great students and to hear the sounds that they make is inspiring." (Via The Columbus Dispatch)

Waters has refused to speak to reporters himself about the incident. But his attorney told The New York Times it should be noted the activities cited in the report had apparently been going on for years — well before Waters took over the program in 2012.

He said, "Jon worked as hard as was humanly possible, within the constraints imposed on him, to reform that culture."

​Headlines about hazing are more expected from fraternities, but the past few years have seen a growing trend of hazing stories out of clubs and sports teams.

In 2011, a student at Florida A&M University died after apparently being hazed by the school's marching band. (Via Fox News)

Last year the Miami Dolphins' Richie Incognito scandal revealed a hazing culture — highlighting the problem in even professional sports. (Via Sports Illustrated)

A headline from the Democrat and Chronicle earlier this year perhaps best sums it up: Hazing continues despite efforts to change.

University officials say the marching band's season will go on as normal as the search for a new director begins.