Almost seven months to the day since Sports Illustrated released their report detailing the vile and toxic culture that existed in the Dallas Mavericks front office, the NBA released a statement about the findings from the independent investigation into the franchise.
On top of the league mandating that a series of reporting, staffing, and policy changes be implemented, Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to organizations committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence
According to ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, $2.5 million was the maximum the league could fine Cuban and the Mavericks, but it seems as if this donation was a way for the league to hold Cuban even more accountable and dish out $7.5 million more than they could legally fine him.
“The findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and heartbreaking and no employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.
“We appreciate that Mark Cuban reacted swiftly, thoroughly and transparently to the allegations first set forth in Sports Illustrated – including the immediate hiring of Cynthia Marshall as CEO to effect change, but as Mark has acknowledged, he is ultimately responsible for the culture and conduct of his employees. While nothing will undo the harm caused by a select few former employees of the Mavericks, the workplace reforms and the $10 million that Mark has agreed to contribute are important steps toward rectifying this past behavior and shining a light on a pervasive societal failing — the inability of too many organizations to provide a safe and welcoming workplace for women.”
Shortly after the report was released, Cuban appeared live on ESPN’s “The Jump” to do an interview with Rachel Nichols.
“First, just an apology to the women involved, in a couple of cases they were assaulted,” said Cuban. “And not just to them, but to their families. Because this is not something that is just an incident and it’s over. It stays with people and stays with families, and I’m just sorry I didn’t see it. I didn’t recognize it. I just hope that out of this we will be better.”
When asked why he didn’t know more and do more, an emotional Cuban tried his best to explain his multiple missteps.
“I don’t have an explanation. I can give you a lot of reasons, but they don’t matter. What matters is that it was my responsibility, and it didn’t happen and I have to be accountable for that.”
“In hindsight, it was staring me in the face and I missed it.”
According to the original SI report from February, former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery terrorized female employees, while former Mavs.com writer Earl K. Sneed was able to keep his job despite two domestic violence incidents, one of which included the assault of a fellow co-worker.
"There was built-in protection for a lot of men," a former male department head at American Airlines Center told Sports Illustrated. "The lack of oversight and compassion within all levels of the business was alarming."
"You don't feel safe going to work and it's not long before you look for another job," a female employee explained. "And then you wonder why there aren't more women working in sports. Really?"
There was also an account of a senior executive who was fired in 2014 who would watch pornography in the office and "rub himself below his belt line." He would also pass around his phone to coworkers to show them pornographic images, and once dropped a used condom on the floor.
Cuban was said to know about some of the events that took place inside his organization. Apparently, it got so bad that employees stopped complaining to the human resources department because they felt management had just accepted the behavior as the norm.
The report was put together by outside investigators and gathered information from 215 interviews with current and former Mavericks employees who worked for the team during the past two decades and from evaluating more than 1.6 million documents.
The Mavericks hired Cynthia Marshall as their new Chief Executive Officer just after the investigation began. Since then, Marshall has replaced or added several new leadership positions in the organization, including a new head of Human Resources, a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, a head of Diversity & Inclusion, and a new General Counsel.
Some of the key findings in the investigation included:
- Numerous instances of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks organization over a period spanning more than twenty years.
- 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.
- Two acts of domestic violence perpetrated by former Mavs.com reporter Earl Sneed, including one against a team employee.
- 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 NBA is additionally requiring the Mavericks to provide the league with quarterly reports regarding the recommendations set forth in the report and their implementation, immediate reports of any instances or allegations of significant misconduct by any employees, and enhanced and updated annual training sessions for all staff on issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
The report also recommends that the Mavericks increase the number of women on staff, especially in leadership positions. Implement regular anonymous employee surveys, and expand and improve the Human Resources department.
“We did a lot of things wrong, and I wasn’t there to oversee him (former President and CEO Terdema Ussery). So yeah, everybody has every reason to question me,” said Cuban.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this was happening right underneath me.”