NBC4 obtained new emails Monday detailing just how much The Ohio State University School of Music administrators and other officials knew about the marching band culture years before Jonathan Waters was director.
Waters was fired on July 23 after a two-month investigation by the university.
The Ohio State investigation allegedly revealed cultural issues that Waters was allegedly aware of or should have been aware of. It was further alleged that Waters failed to eliminate the “sexualized culture” and prevent it from reoccurring.
NBC4 uncovered a paper trail implicating several Ohio State officials from multiple different offices, showing that staffers not only knew about band traditions like Midnight Ramp, but they worked with marching band staff to ensure the particular tradition would continue for years to come.
A 2009 alcohol-related incident at the event unveiled that high-level officials inside the school of music, Ohio State police, and the Office of Student Judicial Affairs met to determine the fate of the tradition, which involves band members stripping down to their underwear and marching in formation on the field of Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State investigators found band staff and directors, including Waters, had sometimes attended. One female student said older members of the band would warn newcomers to wear “fuller coverage” undergarments for the event; others wore pajamas or shorts, but some marched naked.
“We had some subsequent meetings with band faculty as well as the administration of the university, and there were some modifications,” said Dr. Russel Mikkelson, Interim Ohio State Marching Band Director.
The documents show that the band was given a key granting field access to Ohio Stadium by stadium officials. An Ohio State police captain wrote in an email, “being a former night watch officer, I am somewhat familiar with some of the traditions of the band.”
Ohio State officials agreed to allow Midnight ramp to continue. An email from the school of music Director Richard Blatti recommended that Ohio State police be present at the event beginning in 2010 for the, “safety and well being of our students.”
Blatti continued to require both then-marching band director Jon Woods and then-assistant director Waters to attend Midnight Ramp going forward.
Waters has filed a federal lawsuit against the university, asking for more than $1 million in damages.
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