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Fired Ohio State Band Director Drops All Claims in Sexism Dispute

The university fired Jonathan Waters in 2014 for allegedly ignoring a 'sexualized culture' that discriminated against female band members.
IMAGE: Ohio State University marching band
A tuba player 'Dots the I' in a traditional Ohio State University marching band performance in 2006.AP

The former director of Ohio State University's famous marching band has dropped all legal claims against the school, which fired him 2½ years ago for allegedly ignoring an entrenched "sexualized culture."

The university fired Jonathan Waters in 2014 after an internal report found that members of the self-proclaimed "Best Damn Band in the Land" engaged in a wide variety of explicit actions, from late-night naked romps on the football field in Columbus to forcing new band members to take X-rated quizzes.

Waters sued in state and federal courts, claiming the university defamed him by alleging that he failed to put a stop to the unsavory behavior, invaded his privacy in releasing the report and engaged in sexual discrimination — against him — because a female coach hit with similar allegations wasn't fired.

The university argued that Waters was an at-will employee subject to firing for any reason and that as a member of the male majority, Waters couldn't argue gender discrimination.

The Ohio Court of Claims found for the university in July, and the federal suit was dismissed in August, according to records on file in U.S. District Court in Columbus. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Waters' federal appeal late last month.

Wednesday, the university announced that Waters had agreed to drop all claims in exchange for its agreement not to take him to court to recover its costs in the legal battle.

A tuba player 'Dots the I' in a traditional Ohio State University marching band performance in 2006.AP

"Ohio State is pleased this litigation is now concluded and all parties can move forward," the university said in a statement.

In 2014, Waters told NBC News that he'd tried hard to root out the sexist traditions, which he claimed had plagued the band for decades.

"The culture in our band is entrenched, and because it's entrenched, it doesn't turn on a dime," he said. "What is so shocking by the report is its inaccuracy and its one-sided nature."

"You see the great performances on the field? You see the wonderful things that the band has done?" he asked. "That does not happen without an atmosphere of respect, camaraderie, discipline — all of those wonderful things that we see on the field were also happening in hearts and souls of our band members, and we have done that as a group effort."