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NBA Sanctions Levied On Dallas Mavericks After Independent Report On Workplace Misconduct

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The NBA is mandating new requirements by the Dallas Mavericks in response to an independent report completed following allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct in the Mavericks organization.

Mavericks owner Mark 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, the NBA said in a statement Wednesday.

Cuban issued an emotional apology on ESPN Wednesday afternoon.

The pain that people went through, the pain that people shared with me, as this happened, the tears that i saw, it just, it hurt," said Cuban.

Mark Cuban (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The organizations will be selected by an advisory council of leaders from the Mavericks, including Cuban, Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall and the NBA.

The NBA is also requiring the Mavericks to do the following:

Provide the league office with quarterly reports regarding the recommendations set forth in the report and their implementation

Immediately report to the league office any instances or allegations of significant misconduct by any employee

Continually enhance and update annual "Respect in the Workplace" training for all staff, including ownership

Implement a program to train all staff, including ownership, on issues related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

The team will not lose any draft picks as a result of the findings.

"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.  "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."

Here is the complete report:

The seven month long investigation included interviews with 215 current and former Mavericks employees.

Here are the key findings according to the NBA:

  • 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 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.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon at American Airlines Center, Special Counsel Anne Milgram said, "Ussery and Pittman routinely hired and fired people. And they never told Cuban. He was not in the officer. Arms length. But he also did engage. So it comes back to this question of – you cant be half in and half out on disciplinary decisions."

WATCH the Mavericks' news conference here:

In February when Sports Illustrated published the article titled, "Exclusive: Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks", that detailed decades of sexual harassment, domestic violence and a generally corrosive work environment inside the Mavericks' offices.

After the story was published, the Mavericks launched an independent investigation and hired outside counsel to look into the allegations -- including the conduct of Ussery.

Terdema Ussery
Terdema Ussery (Getty Images)

Ussery, who spent spent 18 years with the team, was accused of making sexually suggestive remarks to several women. He denied the allegations in a statement to Sports Illustrated.


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