News item: An investigation uncovers a sordid, two-decade-plus history of misogyny and sexual harassment by Dallas Mavericks employees. Reaction from team owner Mark Cuban: Donate $10 million to women’s advocacy groups.
That what the Shark Tank star is pledging in the wake of an independent probe overseen by the NBA that found “numerous instances of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct” by Mavericks workers, including a former team president and CEO who’s accused of touching and forcibly kissing female colleagues.
The investigation was launched after a February exposé in Sports Illustrated detailed allegations against the Mavericks employees and spotlighted its ex-president Terdema Ussery, who ran the team for 12 years while Cuban owned it. He left the organization in 2015.
'American Idol' Hits 7-Week High Note As 'Red Line' Opens Sluggish; NBA Conference Semis Starter Best Since 2011
“I had a CEO I deferred to, and it was a mistake,” Cuban said in an interview with ESPN — corporate sibling of ABC, which airs Shark Tank. “In hindsight, it was staring me right and the face, and I missed it. I wasn’t as focused on the business as I should have been. … If I was in our business office five times in 15 years that was a lot — it’s embarrassing to say, there were people who I just hadn’t met and hadn’t talked to.”
The report also found “two acts of domestic violence perpetrated by former Mavs.com reporter Earl Sneed, including one against a team employee,” and multiple incidences of “improper workplace conduct by former Mavericks ticket sales employee Chris Hyde.”
Cuban told The Jump host Rachel Nichols that the probe’s findings “just tore me apart.” You can watch the interview here:
The probe found no evidence of wrongdoing by Cuban or that he knew about the alleged misconduct. The NBA said the report was “based on information gathered from 215 interviews with current and former Mavericks employees who worked for the team during the past two decades and from the evaluation of more than 1.6 million documents, including emails and other electronic documents.”
The league added: “In recognition of the institutional and other failures set forth in the report, Mr. Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.”
Said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, “No employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report.”
After the probe began, Cuban hired former AT&T senior exec Cynthia Marshall as Mavericks CEO. The NBA said she and Cuban “took a series of steps to enhance the team’s workplace policies and procedures” and that Marshall has “implemented a massive overhaul to improve the organization’s workplace culture.”
- The investigation substantiated numerous instances of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks organization over a period spanning more than twenty years.
- Among other things, the investigation found:
- Improper workplace conduct toward fifteen female employees by the Mavericks’ former President and CEO Terdema Ussery, including inappropriate comments, touching, and forcible kissing;
- Improper workplace conduct by former Mavericks ticket sales employee Chris Hyde, including inappropriate comments to women of a sexual nature, the viewing and sharing of pornographic images and videos, unsolicited and unwanted sexual advances, and violent and threatening outbursts toward co-workers; and
- Two acts of domestic violence perpetrated by former Mavs.com reporter Earl Sneed, including one against a team employee.
- The investigators concluded that Mavericks’ management was ineffective, including a lack of compliance and internal controls, and that these shortcomings permitted the growth of an environment in which acts of misconduct and the individuals who committed them could flourish. In particular, the investigators found:
- The Mavericks executive leadership team failed to respond adequately and committed a significant error in judgment by retaining Mr. Sneed following his domestic violence incidents; and
- The Mavericks’ executive leadership team was responsible for allowing Mr. Hyde to remain employed with the organization despite his inappropriate and problematic behavior, and failed adequately to address his various acts of misconduct.
- The investigators found no evidence that Mr. Cuban was aware of Mr. Ussery’s misconduct. None of the 215 witnesses who were interviewed stated that they informed Mr. Cuban of Mr. Ussery’s actions, the investigators found no documentary evidence of such a communication, and Mr. Cuban stated that he did not know about the conduct.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.