Legal Battles

Cuban to Give Women's Groups $10 Million After Mavs Sexual Harassment Probe

Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons
Over the last two decades, the Dallas Mavericks organization has suffered from a culture of sexual harassment, misconduct and intimidation, according to the results of an independent investigation into team culture released Wednesday. Team owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million to women's groups because of what the NBA calls "institutional failures" found by the report. Investigators did not find Cuban personally responsible for any wrongdoing, nor did they find that he was aware of 20 years worth of allegations against a former team president.

The investigation, conducted by team-hired investigators Anne Milgram and Evan Krutoy, largely confirmed allegations first made in a bombshell Sports Illustrated report in February that said former team President Terdema Ussery repeatedly sexually harassed and inappropriately touched female Mavs employees.

Investigators also found that two domestic violence accusations against former beat writer Earl Sneed were credible. Ussery denied the allegations against him — including giving unwanted back rubs to female employees and other inappropriate touching as well as repeated sexual comments and advances — to investigators, just as he did when the initial report came out in February.

“I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me,” Ussery said on Feb. 20. “During my career with the Mavericks, I have strived to conduct myself with character, integrity and empathy for others."

Sneed admitted to being involved with both incidents after they first became public knowledge but attempted to downplay his role as the aggressor in both altercations. He did the same in an interview with Milgram and Krutoy, but they did not find him credible.

Milgram and Krutoy found that a third Mavs staffer, ticket office employee Chris Hyde, repeatedly looked at pornography on his office computer and showed it to other employees. He was also caught on video letting a used condom fall out of his pants pocket and onto the office floor. Despite his behavior, Hyde, the team's highest-selling ticket employee, was not fired. Hyde refused to speak with investigators.

"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." — Adam Silver

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“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “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.”

During an interview with ESPN timed to coincide with the report's release, Cuban expressed sympathy for all the women who were victims of his employees:

"To the women involved, and the women who were in a couple of cases assaulted, not just to them, but to their families. Because this is not just something that's an incident and then it's over. It stays with people and it stays with families ... I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm sorry I didn't recognize it. I just hope that out of this we'll be better and we can avoid it and we can help make everybody just smarter about the whole thing."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young