COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University should disavow the investigative report of the school's celebrated marching band that led to the firing of its director for failing to stop a "sexualized culture" and immediately reinstate him, according to report by a group of band alumni released Friday.
The report also calls for an independent investigation of the university's handling of Jonathan Waters' July 24 firing and a university apology to band members and alumni.
The 103-page report also recommends the university put the marching band, currently a part of the School of Music, under independent oversight.
The report said the university didn't put enough weight on Waters' attempt to address and stop older traditions in the band.
"Evidence of cited historic events does not demonstrate the existence of a 'band culture' as we move forward," the report said. "They are not evidence of general misconduct, cultural problems or any failure of leadership or control by Jonathan Waters."
Waters' supporters defend his reputation and that of the band, whose halftime shows, including one in the formation of Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk, grab hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced it was ending a four-year investigation of Ohio State's handling of sexual violence complaints, and applauded the university for its handling of the marching band situation, which cropped up after the government launched the 2010 probe.
The alumni report says Ohio State succumbed to pressure in that investigation and fired Waters only to show it was taking a hard-line approach to alleged Title IX discrimination, referring to the law that prohibits gender discrimination at institutions that take federal funds.
Given that federal investigation, "an atmosphere existed in which the University truly sought to demonstrate its Title IX resolve in dramatic fashion, even at the expense of due process and fundamental fairness," the report said.
The band "has remained a model of compliance with Title IX," Gary Leppla, a band alumnus and lawyer said at a news conference Friday.
Ohio State has denied its actions against Waters were an attempt to placate the federal investigation. The university declined to comment on the report.
"We are focused on a great football game tomorrow and outstanding performances from our Marching Band and the alumni," spokesman Chris Davey said in an email.
Waters, a band alumnus, was expected to march in the alumni band's pre-game show Saturday and possibly direct a couple of numbers.
The two-month university investigation concluded Waters knew about and failed to stop sexualized rituals including students marching partially clad, playing groping games on buses, and awarding sometimes explicit nicknames based on silly performances mimicking sex toys, orgasms or body parts.
Waters' supporters have lobbied intensely for his reinstatement, arguing he has been scapegoated by the university and was working to improve the culture inside the band.
Most of the alumni report consists of criticisms of Ohio State's report and repeats allegations that the university investigation was incomplete and relied on a minority of current and former band members to reach its conclusions.
For example, it questioned the university's criticism of sexually charged nicknames that some band members were given.
"Many of these names were the preferred names of these individuals, both in and out of band," the alumni report said. "Some of these individuals had their nicknames included in their social media profiles."