Ohio State hears from ex-band director’s backers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Angry backers of Ohio State’s fired marching band director made a splashy showing at a trustee meeting Friday, playing their horns, wearing T-shirts supporting him and urging the board to keep discussions on the matter open.

Jonathan Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month university investigation concluded he turned a blind eye to a ”sexualized culture” inside what’s considered one of the nation’s most innovative bands, including students marching in their underwear, playing groping games, doling out sometimes sexually explicit nicknames and singing from a lewd songbook.

Band parents, alumni and other supporters lined the boardroom on campus after serenading the meeting with songs familiar to what fans call The Best Damn Band in The Land. A pro-Waters banner was flown overhead.

Board Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth allotted five minutes for them to say their piece through a designee, band alumnus and lawyer Gary Leppla, even though school officials have repeatedly said Waters’ dismissal will not be revisited. Waters supporters want to respect the process and have a voice in the process, Leppla said.

Wadsworth said in a statement that trustees are ”mindful of the effect this transition is having on many current and former band members and supporters,” but that the issue is closed.

”All of us are excited to turn the page and begin the 137th season of the ‘Pride of the Buckeyes’ with new faces and a renewed commitment to the values that make this university one of the best in the world,” he said. ”We are moving forward.”

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