In Your Words
Alumni share their views in letters to the editor.
We welcome your letters. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org subject line: In your words, or mail them to Ohio State Alumni magazine, 2200 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1035. We reserve the write to edit letters for space, clarity and civility. All submissions selected for publication will appear on this page.
Credit for a football legend
To set the record straight on John Borton’s career and record at Ohio State, I offer the following information.
I was an undergraduate at OSU beginning in the fall of 1951. Woody Hayes was in his first year as head coach. John, another fraternity brother and I roomed together during the 1952 academic year, so I know his football accomplishments and history.
John was an excellent student and had an outstanding record as a passing quarterback at his high school in Alliance, Ohio. He was awarded both academic and football scholarships by Ohio State. In his freshman year, 1951, John played at the linebacker position. Then he made the transition to starting quarterback in 1952 and was named an academic All American in 1952. The next year, 1953, he set all the records for passing, some of which are still among the best today.
Early in the 1953 season, John suffered a broken finger that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Dave did not “beat out” John. John’s injury opened the door for Dave Leggett. Dave did lead the Buckeyes to the National Championship during the 1954 season (January ’55). The pass offense that John Borton had executed so brilliantly was finished. Leggett answered Coach Hayes’ preference for running very well, and that was what Ohio State did for many subsequent years under Woody Hayes and others — thus, the “three yards and a cloud of dust” that we all remember.
John never started for Ohio State again. In 1955, when he graduated, he joined the Navy from his ROTC program and, following his service, he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns; however, his injuries again caught up with him and ended his football career.
He was a legend in his time, and his accomplishments are worthy of note.
George M. Apelian ’54 (Lifetime Member)
Boca Raton, Florida
Reader relishes mag’s evolution
For years I have thought about expressing my opinion about the quality of Ohio State Alumni magazine. After graduation, I spent the (at the time) amazing amount of $100 to become a lifetime member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association. The alumni magazine was one of the benefits and came once a month. Nothing was very exciting, especially when compared to other universities’ alumni magazines.
However, shortly after “the Archie transformation” began, I looked forward to the magazine. The format began to evolve into a boldly designed, interesting magazine. The articles and other news greatly improved, both in quantity and quality.
Much to my surprise, Archie announced in “Tradition and Change” that the next issue would be redesigned to “capture the spirit of Ohio State today.” Redesigning an already outstanding leading magazine takes courage, understanding the culture and having a vision others do not have. Thank you, Archie!
Paul A. Briner ’64 (LM)
Photo caption faux pas
Readers noted that the female resident pictured on Page 4 of the September–October issue could not have been moving in to Baker Hall in 1955 as we said. They were right: Baker was converted back to a men’s residence hall in winter 1955. Interestingly, it was the second-largest women’s residence hall in the nation in 1953–54, The Lantern reported.
Here’s what readers had to say:
I don’t believe the caption on page 4 of the September–October issue could be correct. I moved into Baker Hall in January 1955, the first quarter that Baker Hall was converted to an all-men’s dormitory. I think I would have noticed if that resident had moved in.
Trent Latimer ’57, ’57 MS, ’64 PhD (LM)
Los Alamos, New Mexico
I moved into Baker Hall in January 1955, and unless I was blind, I saw no women except for staff. It was my understanding that men took over that January from women, who had been at Baker Hall since WWII. Maybe the caption should have read Move Out Day 1955.
A.G. Spitaler ’57
Residence hall memories resonate
I was moved by the September–October issue of the alumni magazine. I was particularly touched by the article and personal stories of alumni who lived in the Stadium Dorm. I, too, lived in the stadium in my freshman and sophomore years. One of my unit mates was John Botorff (his personal comments are noted on page 14).
That group of young men from Unit D celebrated Buckeye wins leading up to that National Championship in '68. In fact, a group of us traveled to the Rose Bowl to see OSU defeat USC. That was my first airline trip and my first trip to California. Education came in many ways at OSU!
I also served as a resident advisor in Steeb my junior and senior years. During that wonderful time, I met Carol Stead, my wife of 43 years, who was an RA in Paterson Hall.
Thanks for the great stories that allow us all the opportunity to relive and remember great times.
Rolland Mambourg ’71
Ann Arbor, Mich.
The September–October issue Ohio State Alumni magazine was among the best ever published, in my humble opinion. From “In residence,” about life in the residence halls, to the great review of our Buckeye football teams to the Alumni Awards —keep going!!
I loved the 91st birthday card from Archie and the Alumni Association. Certainly impressed my grands and great-grands.
Ruth Dougan Domenico Robinson ’44 (LM)
Global climate change not a matter for debate
I find it disheartening that an Ohio State graduate would write to his alumni magazine [“A challenge,” September–October letters] and request that the Alumni Association convene a panel of experts to determine if global warming is man-made or not, as if there is not already a consensus among climate scientists that climate change is from human activity. I merely Googled “climate scientist consensus” and found this information. I, for one, am not doubting the ability of this publication to decisively resolve controversies of all manner, but this request seems strange, to say the least.
Devon T. McRainey ’05
German-language house offered total immersion
In the fall of 1972, I moved into the first language-based student housing facility and co-ed living arrangement at OSU. The house was located on 15th Avenue in the midst of fraternity and sorority buildings and was sponsored by the OSU German Department.
The house had about 20 students split evenly between females and males, living on three floors with no doors or barriers separating us. This was a major advance in the loss of living constraints for college students during that time. Individuals paid their rent to a landlord but agreed to speak only German within the house, cook their own food and help the adult housefather keep the place clean.
The experience and fellowship was incredible. The growth in my German and personality was one of the greatest things I remember from my years at OSU.
Fred Schuster ’74 (LM)
North Lima, Ohio
Readers take stand on dismissal
I take exception to Archie Griffin’s remarks in “Tradition and Change” (September–October 2014) about how he felt at the firing of Woody Hayes in 1978 and its similarity to the feelings of Jon Waters’ supporters over his firing as our band director. I contend the latter feelings are much stronger and deeper due to the vastly different circumstances.
While both men are lifelong Buckeyes, highly motivated individuals and successful in their fields of endeavor, Woody was treated quite differently than Jon. I recall Woody being advised of his shortcomings and given multiple opportunities to improve upon them. In 1971, 1973 and 1977, Woody was fined and suspended by the Big Ten for unbecoming conduct. Woody had every opportunity to modify his behavior long before his termination. Woody took personal ownership of his firing when he struck a football player in 1978.
In contrast, Jon was given an excellent performance review just weeks before his firing — a firing that came with no advance warning, no chance to review the damning investigative report (confront his detractors or rebut its findings) and no alternative disciplinary action. The amateur way the investigation was reportedly conducted and its findings served upon Jon is an affront to Buckeye Nation. The unwavering attitude of the Board of Trustees and new university president appears directed toward achieving personal goals/objectives and not the best interests of The Ohio State University as a whole.
This university and the community are better than our collective conduct has been to date in this matter. Why not allow an open hearing to convene? Why not allow Jon Waters (and his attorney) to present his side of the story and face his detractors (including those individuals who produced the report)? Why not hear from some of the vast number of alumni, band members and third-party individuals (over 8,000 petition signers as of Sept. 25) in support of Jon? Why not allow American justice to prevail?
Some people will say that Jon can always sue the university and thus have his day in court, but why should he have to? Should we just “move forward” as the Board of Trustees has recommended? This is a man’s career and reputation. He has a wife and family. Where does he go from here and to do what? From what I have heard and read, Jon has done nothing wrong to deserve this treatment. He is a highly competent, successful, proven leader who is exceedingly well respected by staff, students and the music community at large. And, I have not even touched on the embarrassment to the TBDBITL alumni. Dr. Drake, what am I missing? Please be guided by your moral compass.
Richard I. Johnson '74
Broadview Heights, Ohio
Archie, you have always been a hero of mine, but I have lost respect for you over the Jon Waters affair and your editorial. You are not employed by the university, but by the Ohio State Alumni Association, and you do not reflect the overwhelming sentiment of alumni. The mishandling by my university is only going to keep on soiling its reputation as the issue is going to court. How can the university be so stupid as to have initiated the whole sordid affair and then keep dragging us through the mud?
Paul Hamill '63 (LM)
I love Archie (who doesn't?), but I'm going to stick with the thousands of alumni who disagree with President Drake. While I understand Archie's comparison from a feelings standpoint [September–October 2014], the comparison ends there. Woody punched a player on national television. Jon Waters yelled at a kid.
I do not want to hear that Jon did not try hard enough. The consensus appears to be that the “culture” was improving.
President Drake acted too hastily. We are not used to that type of behavior at The Ohio State University. I'm sure my Scarlet and Gray glasses have something to do with the following: We expect the best — not only from TBDBITL, sports, academics and research, but also from our leadership.
Jim Pence '91
I have to share with my fellow OSU alumni a concern I have developed since reading Archie’s comments in a recent alumni magazine. His comments expressed his support for President Drake’s firing of Jonathan Waters from his OSUMB director position. My concern is one of conflict of interest that may exist given Archie is president of the alumni association while also being a senior vice president within Drake’s OSU administration. (This dual reporting seems to be quite rare, especially at large universities.)
To which constituency is Archie accountable as its representative? As OSUAA president, does he represent the majority opinion of the alumni? Or as senior VP within the OSU administration, does he represent the university administration’s position? It is troubling that Archie has expressed his support for Drake’s firing of Jon Waters when I don’t remember any poll that he conducted of the alumni, his constituents. So, how can he be representing the Alumni Association, accurately anyway? If he is not representing the alumni, is he strictly “carrying water” for the OSU administration?
For those who don’t care about the Jon Waters situation, what happens if there is some other differing position between a group of alumni and OSU administration? How does the Alumni Association push a countering position to the university if its chief representative also reports to the university president? In the business world, I believe that this dual reporting would be seen as a conflict of interest, and it would be avoided.
Archie is clearly a revered figure in Ohio State history. And he deserves all due respect given that. That said, I think potential conflicts of interest should be avoided for the sake of all parties involved.
Joe Sekel '84 (LM)
I do respect Archie Griffin and what he has done for Ohio State. However, I do not agree with Archie’s opinion regarding the decision of the new OSU president to fire the band director. I think the new president should have given himself a year to become acquainted with Ohio State followers and a year to look into the allegations against the band director. Instead, he listened to a few who gave him bad advice and gave Buckeye Country a black eye. I am not impressed with this new president’s wisdom or leadership. I hope the courts will use wisdom and bring respect back to the Ohio State Marching Band.
Patricia Webb '62 (LM)
I read Archie Griffin’s “Tradition and Change” article in the September–October 2014 issue, comparing the firing of marching band director Jon Waters to the firing of Woody Hayes. It has been reported Archie also used this analogy in a meeting with marching band members and parents.
I have been a fan of Mr. Griffin since 1979 when he came to speak at my school, Ridgeview Junior High School in the Columbus public school system. Archie is an eloquent speaker and honorable person. I appreciate the commiseration, empathy and finding common ground; but this comparison is flawed.
When Woody was fired, the university didn’t issue a 23-page report with a75-page appendix based on 2 percent of players asserting that a “violence culture” existed in the football program. It didn’t state that Woody knew or should have known this was occurring and did nothing to prevent it. It didn’t ignore documented evidence of actions taken and policies implemented to address isolated instances.
When Earle Bruce was fired, the university simply said multiple years of 9–3 records is not what we’re looking for out of this program. It didn’t further damage Earle’s reputation by publicly releasing transcripts of locker room humor from six years before he became head coach.
When Jim O’Brien was fired, the university didn’t commission an external task force with a visibly biased “report a complaint” website and student survey containing inappropriate personal questions that sought to find additional wrongdoing within the basketball program.
When Jim Tressel resigned, the university released a report naming the few players involved, but the university president did not appear on YouTube to publicly accuse the entire team and thousands of alumni football players of a systemic culture of violating NCAA regulations.
Each of these absurd responses, which thankfully did not occur in past high-profile firings, have, since July 24, 2014, been similarly undertaken by The Ohio State University in regard to the marching band. These actions have been documented by multiple media outlets and the analysis report on TBDBITL.com. With the Sept. 11, 2014, statement from the Department of Education, it is now clear that these actions, the manufactured report and media circus were the intentional chosen methods to get out from under the federal investigation. The end does not justify the means.
The actions of the administration toward the marching band, its current and former members and staff are uniquely disturbing in OSU history and set a dangerous precedent. Which student organization is next? This has greatly damaged the reputation of The Ohio State University and, as a taxpayer of the state of Ohio and an alumnus who values the prestige that a degree from this institution formerly conferred, I am deeply concerned.
Stephen Tuhela-Reuning '90, '91
I shared many memories with friends while attending The Ohio State University, but my most treasured memories are of taking my young sons to football games and then seeing my son march onto the field as part of the OSUMB in 2011. He is a current band member, and that is one of my greatest joys and sorrows at the same time. He is one of the students whose reputation and character has been defamed by the university that he, his brother (who is a freshman there) and I all love.
As an alum, I am embarrassed by how my university has botched the matters dealing with Jonathan Waters. Jon did nothing but bring notoriety to the band, maintain a level of excellence, foster cultural change and give us The Best Damn Band in The Land. However, my university used a flawed report to terminate one of its most highly recognizable alumni. And as if that were not bad enough, even by Dr. Drake’s admission, it used 20- to 30-year-old information to do so, all while slandering each and every member of the current band. When asked, Drake responded, “I believe that the report was overwhelmingly about people I’ve never met and that you’ve probably never met in times gone by. The overwhelming volume of this was historical information.”
Yet they have slandered the reputation of each and every current band member, which has subjected them to harassment and made them the butt of jokes rather than The Pride of the Buckeyes. I can never forgive my university for doing this to Jon Waters and my son.
To compound this hurt, a childhood hero of mine, Archie Griffin, recently used a flawed analogy to liken this matter to the dismissal of Coach Hayes. The two could not be more dissimilar for reasons already outlined by previous letters from other alums. Moreover, this is a deep hurt, because Mr. Griffin has followed the company line in defaming and slandering the alumni who served with pride in the OSUMB along with all current members. Is that the role of an alumni association?
We continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. We have the ability to be great, but it will only be when we have people who understand what being a Buckeye means who are at the helm. The current board of trustees, president and, I’m sorry to say after I read the article in our September–October magazine, the president/CEO of the Ohio State University Alumni Association, are not helping this university achieve greatness. No great institution turns its back on its own to cover itself. Institutions do it all the time; no great ones.
We have a viable solution to the overwhelming negative headlines which continue to plague our university. Those who did so can admit they made a snap decision based upon flawed information. They then can reinstate Jonathan Waters and let the healing begin. Until that day, we cannot rebuild the reputations of the band members, Jonathan Waters or our beloved Ohio State University. “Our Honor Defend, we will fight to the end’ to show “how firm thy friendship.”
Douglas R. Poage ’89
I am very disappointed with A. Griffin’s support for the firing of Jon Waters. It was sad to see that the position of president and CEO of the OSU Alumni Association is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the president of the university and the Board of Trustees.
I expect more from the leader of the alumni association. I expect the leader of our Alumni Association to represent the feelings of the alumni, not to be an extension of the university's party line. We are entitled to better leadership from this position.
Bob Cowee '76 (LM)
I am a graduate of The Ohio State University and a proud alumnus of The Ohio State University Marching Band. I met my wife in the OSUMB, and we have two young boys who already have dreams of marching down the ramp in Ohio Stadium and dotting the “i.” I am also the current president of the TBDBITL Alumni Club, OSU’s largest alumni society.
I am writing in response to Archie Griffin’s recent article, “Tradition and Change,” in the September–October issue of Ohio State Alumni magazine. Mr. Griffin refers to facilitating a discussion between OSU President Michael Drake and me. Although grateful for his help, I am disappointed to read that Mr. Griffin still fully supports President Drake’s decision to terminate Jonathan Waters as director of the OSUMB despite all that has transpired since that meeting.
First, the report issued by OSU that Mr. Griffin refers to in his article to help support Jonathan Waters’ firing is incredibly biased and unbalanced. It has been fully discredited, repudiated and disavowed by the public, including individuals listed in the report. You can find more information in the TBDBITL Alumni Club’s Investigative Committee Report at tbdbitl.com.
Secondly, OSU rushed to judgment, based on an exceptionally flawed investigation, to satisfy an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education in the wake of its compliance review of the university. OSU decided sacrificing one of its own was more appropriate than taking responsibility for its own shortcomings, particularly under Title IX compliance. Jonathan Waters did not get due process, and his firing did not solve anything.
Third, the external task force Mr. Griffin supports to evaluate band culture was — at best — limited from the start, seemingly and largely controlled by the university, and is now more or less obsolete in the wake of the announcement by the U.S. Department of Education. Moreover, the task force has been discredited by those interviewed thus far in that it appears to want to paint a culture the university report claims is the culture of the OSUMB, not the true culture everyone outside of the administration knows it to be.
Finally, as a result of OSU’s ill-conceived and poorly written report, damage has been done to the OSUMB and its 136 years of tradition. More importantly, there has been tremendous collateral damage to OSUMB alumni, family and friends and the very individuals who have to take the field this fall in Ohio Stadium. Many, including current band members, have had to face a barrage of comments from the public because of OSU’s attempt to report on band culture.
It is this carelessness by OSU — the effects of which will continue to hurt band alumni, family and friends, and current band members for the foreseeable future — that is the true indignity in all of this.
What makes the Woody Hayes situation different from the Jonathan Waters situation is that as much as he is revered at OSU, Woody sealed his own fate. Jonathan’s fate was sealed because the university decided to make him the scapegoat for a problem that was much of its own doing, not an alleged band culture. What is so appalling is OSU has failed to concede it erred and is instead moving forward and leaving all that it has affected in its path.
Jonathan Waters should immediately be reinstated as director of The Ohio State University Marching Band. The administration should immediately and publicly disavow and repudiate its report as well as publicly apologize to the current students of the OSUMB, its alumni, family and friends.
Only then can this nightmare come to an end for all involved and The Ohio State University, as a whole, can move forward.
Brian J. Golden '00 (LM)
I cannot adequately express to you how thoroughly disappointed I am to learn Archie Griffin has given published, public support (through his editorial letter in the September–October 2014 Ohio State Alumni magazine) to President Michael Drake’s decision to fire/terminate Jon Waters as The Ohio State University Marching Band director. Such unfair, shortsighted action based on the inadequate, myopic, inaccurate Glaros Investigative Report (a recently completed Title IX investigation released by the Office of University Compliance and Integrity) is, to me, unacceptable. Dr. Drake and his advisors impulsively endorsed this report despite its many blatant lapses and mistakes, and precipitately removed Jon Waters from his directorship. This action was undertaken in spite of the report being omissive and skewed against the accused (Jon Waters), who was allowed no assurance of adequate representation, given no satisfactory occasion to confront the report’s witnesses and granted no adversary hearing or sufficient opportunity to present a personal defense. It seems apparent to me that such a precipitous action from Dr. Drake and his advisors was an impulsive act undertaken with the limited perspective of hoping to absolve the Title IX furor that has affected The Ohio State University and many other colleges and universities.
I am a proud alumnus and five-year member of The Ohio State University Marching Band. I find the meager Glaros Report and Dr. Drake’s impetuous dismissal of Jon Waters to be aggravating and, personally, insulting. Whatever financial support I had planned on behalf of my OSU alumni status will be donated to Jon Waters and his Marching for Waters Legal Fund.
James R. Abel, ’60, MD ’63
It would be wise for the university to settle the Jon Waters lawsuit out of court. No matter what the court outcome might be, the university will be a loser in many ways and so will the alumni and new graduates. Many feel their diplomas have been tarnished, and I know students who are looking to leave OSU because they are disillusioned by this disgusting development. I saw a video clip where Dr. Drake said he wanted to play a perfectly honest round of golf. I hope he will see the need to be perfectly honest in his executive actions as well.
Frank R Stockum ’60 (LM)