Ohio State names interim replacement to fired director of celebrated marching band

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University named an associate marching band director Thursday as the replacement for Jonathan Waters, who was fired for turning a blind eye to a “sexualized culture” there.

Christopher Hoch will serve on an interim basis. The possibility he’ll stay on permanently as leader of the celebrated band known to fans as the Best Damn Band in the Land will be evaluated after the upcoming season.

Waters was fired last year after an internal investigation concluded he ignored raunchy, suggestive and inappropriate band rituals and traditions. He has disputed the findings and said he was working to resolve cultural issues he inherited. The university has insisted he mishandled the situation and should not be reinstated.

Waters has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and is pursuing a defamation suit that alleges the high-profile flap has rendered him unemployable despite once being viewed as one of the top band directors in the country.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Waters congratulated Hoch on his appointment.

He called Hoch “a good guy and a good musician” and said the two worked well together for seven years. Waters said he was responsible for recommending that Hoch be hired and given the title of associate director.

Hoch was the band’s associate director during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, a period that coincided with Waters’ directorship.

“Chris Hoch and I have a very good shared history together at Ohio State,” Waters said.

Hoch is a 15-year music educator with experience at both the college and high school levels. He’s designed and orchestrated some of the band’s eye-catching halftime shows. Those included a 2012 tribute to classic video games, which became the band’s first show to top 15 million hits on YouTube.

“This is an important academic program for the university as we continue to focus on supporting and educating the students in our band programs and ensuring that they have another great season,” Provost Joseph Steinmetz said in a statement. “Chris already has a great reputation for his innovative and impressive show designs, and he continues to grow and evolve as a music educator, administrator and advocate of the student experience in and out of the classroom.”

When the job was posted, Waters applied. He said in interviews that he continued to see himself as the best person for the position. According to court filings, Waters has also applied for more than 40 positions at the high school and college levels and received no offers.