After Sports Illustrated published a report on Feb. 20, 2018 detailing the Dallas Mavericks’ culture of misogyny and sexual harassment, the team hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the organization. The result of that investigation, a 43-page report, was released today. It details multiple instances of sexual harassment carried out by Mavericks employees, and concludes that such harassment was allowed to persist because of company-wide mismanagement.
The report, which can be read in full at the bottom of this page, begins by detailing the full extent of the harassment and inappropriate behavior that took place in the team’s ticket sales office, much of which was first reported by SI and Deadspin. The findings are based on interviews with 215 current and former employees as well as the review of 1.6 million documents. The report focuses on the conduct of former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, and former employees Chris Hyde and Earl Sneed. From the report:
As set forth in more detail below, we have substantiated claims that include: allegations by fifteen current and former employees regarding inappropriate comments and touching by Terdema Ussery; allegations by dozens of current and former employees that Chris Hyde made inappropriate comments, viewed pornographic images and videos at the office, had a used condom fall out of his pants leg onto the office floor, and had violent and threatening outbursts in the workplace; and allegations by two women, including a former Mavericks employee, that they were victims of domestic violence at the hands of Earl Sneed.
The report then goes on to detail the Mavericks’ institutional failure to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. The report pins much of the blame for this failure on head of Human Resources Buddy Pittman, who helped foster a “sense of futility with respect to making complaints.” The report details one incident in which Pittman waved off an allegation of harassment against Ussery by a female employee, who then left Pittman’s office in tears:
Former Employee 31 recounted that Pittman said that he had received reports that she had been “coming on” to Ussery by holding his hand and being flirtatious. Pittman then said, “Well that didn’t happen, did it?” He continued, “Because he’ s a married man. You know he’ s a good Christian man. He would never do that.” Former Employee 31 said that she was overwhelmed that Ussery’s inappropriate conduct was being turned around against her. Pittman then asked Former Employee 31, “That didn’t happen, right?” Former Employee 31 believed that Pittman was protecting Ussery and that Pittman wanted her to say that nothing had happened. And so, in response to his question, she said that “nothing had happened.” Former Employee 31 recounted that she cried during the meeting in Pittman’s office. At the end of the meeting, Pittman hugged her and joked, “Now you’re not going to report me, are you?” Former Employee 31 told us that she was “devastated” by the conversation with Pittman and “did not know what to do.”
The biggest question concerned how much team owner Mark Cuban did or did not know about the harassment that was taking place in his organization. The report concludes that Cuban didn’t know anything about Ussery’s behavior, but did make errors in judgment when it came to handling Hyde and Sneed.
The report state that although most of Hyde’s misconduct was not brought to Cuban’s attention, he was aware of “several discrete and problematic incidents” spanning a number of years, including the presence of pornography on Hyde’s work computer, and made a “significant error in judgment” by not firing Hyde sooner.
Regarding the domestic violence allegations made against Sneed, the report concludes that Cuban and other members of the Mavericks organization failed to properly investigate the allegations, choosing instead to “support Sneed despite this lack of information.” The report states that Cuban “failed to respond appropriately” when he decided to retain Sneed without a complete understanding of situation. Cuban would later learn of a second violent incident between Sneed and a coworker, at which point he, according to the report, made another “significant error in judgment” by not firing Sneed.
Overall, the report lets Cuban off the hook, citing a lack of evidence that he was ever told anything about Ussery’s misconduct and his physical distance from the business office. From the report:
While there is no question that Cuban is an active owner, he was rarely physically present in the Mavericks’ business office. As both Cuban and many employees expressed in their interviews, Cuban spent the majority of his time overseeing the basketball operations division, which until fall of 2017 was located three miles from the Mavericks’ business office. His involvement in business operations, on the other hand, was often undertaken remotely via email.
As Cuban acknowledged in his interview, “you have to be around the culture to see the culture; I learned the hard way.” Because he so often gave direction remotely and did not have scheduled in-person meetings with Ussery or other senior staff, Cuban was not “around the culture.” His absence from the business office kept him from appreciating either the full scope of the misconduct at the Company or the workplace culture at the business office.
As to the specific allegations made against Ussery, we have not identified any instances in which Cuban was informed of misconduct by Ussery. Indeed, not a single victim of Ussery’s harassment, or any other person, reported that he or she informed Cuban of the misconduct.
The report concludes by making a number of recommendations, which include increasing the number of women in leadership and supervisory positions and conducting anonymous workplace culture surveys. The NBA’s official statement about the report says that Cuban has promised 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.”
You can read the full report below: