Of course you know Mark Cuban from his starring role on the show Shark Tank. You might also know that he’s the cofounder of the successful startup Broadcast.com. But did you know he also owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks? Maybe not.
In 2000, Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million from Ross Perot Jr. He revamped the team’s culture and its roster, building a new stadium and handling his players with kid gloves. In 2011, the Mavericks won the NBA title by defeating the Heat. Cuban’s organization, however, has a reputation for being difficult to work for — find out why, and find out how he’s trying to change that reputation.
1. Terdema Ussery
Terdema Ussery is the Dallas Mavericks’ team president and CEO. He also has a bad reputation for being a serial sexual harasser of women. According to Sports Illustrated, when Ussery was having dinner at the American Airlines Center’s media dining room, he joined a support staff member and started a conversation with her about her upcoming weekend.
“You’re going to get gang-banged,” said Ussery, “aren’t you?” “No,” the said, “Actually, I’m going to the movies with friends.” “No,” said Ussery. “You’re definitely getting gang-banged.” Enough said?
Next: Staffer was not entirely surprised
2. The staffer’s reaction
The female staffer was startled but not entirely surprised, according to Sports Illustrated. She got the job in 2010 and told her running group. No one congratulated her. Instead, one friend warned her to, “watch out for the president.” “Whatever you do, don’t get trapped in an elevator with him,” said the friend.
When the staffer told her female colleagues what happened with Ussery in the dining room exchange, no one was terribly surprised, according to Sports Illustrated. One said that he had propositioned her for sex a number of times, even offering to marry her if she said yes. Another told the staffer that she was going to quit her job with the Mavs — after having been there 10 years — because of Ussery’s behavior.
Next: An investigation
3. The Mavs investigated Ussery
It’s not like the Mavs never investigated Ussery’s behavior, according to Sports Illustrated. In fact, during the summer of 1998 the organization conducted an internal investigation regarding his behavior in the workplace. This was after several female employees complained about him.
Still, Ussery kept his job. The only thing that came out of the investigation was a revamped employee handbook that included a new sexual harassment policy.
Next: You can’t make this stuff up
4. A work environment reminiscent of Animal House
According to Sports Illustrated, employees were subjected to all kinds of unacceptable behavior and had to work in a locker room culture. “It was a real life Animal House,” said one Mavs employee who left after a five-year career with the organization. “And I only say ‘was’ because I’m not there anymore. I’m sure it’s still going on,” she said.
Next: This didn’t help the situation.
5. Ussery left, but the problem didn’t stop
Ussery left the Mavericks in 2015, but that didn’t solve the problem. According to Sports Illustrated, more than a dozen Mavs employees from different departments painted “picture of a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior: alleged public fondling by the team president; outright domestic assault by a high-profile member of the Mavs.com staff; unsupportive or even intimidating responses from superiors who heard complaints of inappropriate behavior from their employees; even an employee who openly watched pornography at his desk.”
The sources who talked to Sports Illustrated did not give permission to use their names. They were afraid that the organization would retaliate and ostracize them.
Next: Here’s what Ussery had to say.
6. Ussery denies all claims
According to Sports Illustrated, Ussery categorically denies all claims against him. Here’s what he said in a statement to the magazine:
I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me. During my career with the Mavericks, I have strived to conduct myself with character, integrity and empathy for others.
During my nearly 20-year tenure with the Mavericks, I am not aware of any sexual harassment complaints about me or any findings by the organization that I engaged in inappropriate conduct. In fact, on multiple occasions I and other senior executives at the organization raised concerns — both in person and in emails — about other Mavericks employees who had engaged in highly inappropriate — and in some cases, threatening — sexual conduct. The organization refused to address these concerns, and I believe these misleading claims about me are part of an attempt to shift blame for the failure to remove employees who created an uncomfortable and hostile work environment within the Mavericks organization.
Next: Mark Cuban, too?
7. Mark Cuban accused of sexual assault
In 2011, a woman accused Mark Cuban of sexually assaulting her. She said he reached into her pants while they were taking a picture together in a Portland, Ore., nightclub, according to ESPN.
Prosecutors did not pursue the case because, “there is no evidence to corroborate the complainant’s statement and there is evidence contradicting the claim.” In an email to The Associated Press on March 6, 2018, Cuban wrote, “It didn’t happen.”
Next: It wasn’t all bad.
8. The actual players are all respectful
Given the number of sexual harassment complaints about the organization, it’s surprising that none was ever leveled at a player. According to Sports Illustrated, the players were always gentlemen.
“I dealt with players all the time. I had hundreds of interactions with players and never once had an issue…they always knew how to treat people. Then I’d go to the office and it was this zoo, this complete sh**show. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk,” said one staffer.
Next: An embarrassment
9. Mark Cuban vows to clean things up
Mark Cuban says he’s “embarrassed” about the allegations regarding the Mavs’ workplace culture, according to The Denver Post. And he promises to fix the problem. The organization issued a statement saying that that it “takes these allegations extremely seriously,” and said it plans on hiring an outside law firm to conduct “a thorough and independent investigation.”
In addition, the Mavs said it was suspending “an employee whose job was to receive and investigate such complaints and report them accurately and fully,” and that it had fired a staffer who “misled the organization about a prior domestic violence incident.”
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