A few weeks back NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he expected the report on the Dallas Mavericks sexual harassment investigation should come “within the month.”
Well, July is now over and the report still isn’t here. To be fair, these types of investigations can take a lot of time — the report into the extensive damage done by Baylor football program in regards to sexual abuse has been ongoing for over a year now. So the report not dropping by Silver’s guesstimate for its release isn’t shocking, but we figured now would be a good time to catch everyone up on what has happened since the allegations first came about back in February.
Hopefully the investigators are doing their due diligence and in due time we’ll get some more answers on what went wrong with the Mavericks and how to move forward. For now, here’s where we stand:
Feb. 20 — Sports Illustrated drops the bombshell report about the Mavericks gross sexual harassment in the workplace
The story officially started back when SI dropped their extensive report about the two decades of harassment.
In the story, the two most detailed accounts revolved around former CEO Terdema Ussery and former Mavs.com writer Earl Sneed. Ussery was alleged to be the heart of the problem, harassing female employees for almost 20 years. Sneed was arrested in 2011 and convicted in 2012 for domestic abuse and the Mavericks allowed Sneed to continue working, where he was eventually alleged to have abused another female, this time a co-worker.
A day after SI’s story went live, we obtained and published the arrest records of former Mavericks employee Earl Sneed and confirmed the details from the SI report.
While there was nothing in the documents that didn’t reveal anything SI didn’t report the day before, one of the most noteworthy things about the records were how easy they were to obtain — they required no Freedom of Information Act request, just accessing the Dallas county database.
The contents of the records were gross and disturbing and it seemed unfathomable that a public facing Mavericks employee (even one as low on the totem poll as Sneed) could get arrested at the Mavericks office and convicted without any media at the time aware of it.
In the original SI story, Cuban said he had no idea about any of the allegations. When SI tried to clarify if Cuban also knew about Sneed, he said he didn’t. Cuban doubled-down again the next day, until he finally admitted he knew about Sneed’s arrest in a story by ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon.
“I want to be clear: I’m not putting the blame on anybody else,” Cuban told ESPN. “It came down to my final decision that I made.”
In hindsight, Cuban said, “I would have fired him and still made him go to counseling” after learning details of the first domestic violence incident, expressing regret for not following up with police to discover those details.
While it was good that Cuban set the record straight, it was a bad look that he claimed he didn’t know and it’s even worse that he allowed Sneed to stay employed after the arrest.
Just a week after the allegations first surfaced, Cuban and the Mavericks hired former AT&T executive Cynthia Marshall as CEO.
Marshall’s resume made the hire a ton of sense. In her 36 years at AR&T she was a senior vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer. Marshall’s mission from her opening press conference was short and clear: she was going to clean up the organization and make it a better place to work going forward.
“Cynt is not coming in here to be the savior of the world,” Marshall said, speaking in third person during her first press conference. “What I have learned is that it takes a team, it takes a village, and we will get this done. We’re talking about 140 people. But a culture transcends even beyond just our workplace.”
While not a Mavericks problem directly, the failure from Dallas sports media in the week following the scandal was a black eye for local media and a shameful response to domestic abuse victims around the world seeing the story.
In the span of one week, here’s what Dallas sports media did:
- The Dallas Morning News published a full statement from Earl Sneed without any context as the statement attempted to spin the story in Sneed’s favor. There were no mentions of Sneed’s arrest or guilty plea — just a statement from a domestic abuser with no apology.
- Prominent sports columnist Tim Cowlishaw wrote a reflective column about how he should have followed up on a story about Ussery back in 1998, when word of his inappropriate behavior started to come out. While the column mostly has a good message, toward the end it has a bizarre anecdote that almost undermines the entire column: “Whether it’s not pursuing stories or just not caring, many of us have been complicit in the world of sexual harassment in the American workplace. We hear things, but we don’t connect dots. Someone tells me a local scout has fallen out of favor because “he likes young boys’’ and I shrug.” In a column about needing to do better about shining a light on abuse, Cowlishaw admits he might have turned the other way when hearing about another instance of abuse.
- The topper — 103.3 ESPN Radio in Dallas interviewed Sneed and provided a platform for him to spin his story some more, with Sneed offering no remorse and little push-back from his interviewers. For some reason, a convicted domestic abuser got to go on the radio and blame his victim, not apologize and talk about his struggles, while failing to address the struggles of the women he hurt. It was terrible all-around and an embarrassment.
March 6 — Portland alternative newspaper Willamette Week reveals that Portland police investigated a sexual assault accusation against Mark Cuban in 2011
The report from Portland might not have led to Cuban getting arrested, but Cuban’s words and Rick Carlisle’s followup about it were tremendously disappointing
Cuban’s answers in the report shed some light on how it might have been possible he never noticed the sexual harassment happening in his organization. When Carlisle was asked about the report after a Mavericks practice the next day, he responded.
“Very sad,” Carlisle said after practice. “And I view that situation as a baseless and journalistically unethical rehashing of a proven non-event. That’s what that is.
”Have you ever heard the term fake news? This is the most insidious form.”
While Carlisle is more than within his right to standby his boss, especially when Cuban wasn’t arrested and only questioned, it was very disappointing to hear him to use the same language the current President uses to dismiss actual reporting. The Portland story was not fake news — Cuban was questioned and the report backed it up with reliable sourcing and the transcript from a detective’s interview.
Melissa Weishaupt, a former Mavericks employee who was a source for the original SI report, came forward with her identity to put more credibility into the allegations.
She also told The Dallas Morning News that she thinks Cuban’s claims of being unaware of the workplace harassment aren’t true.
“I think Mark knew about it, just because of how people talked in the office,” Weishaupt told The Dallas Morning News. “It was a small office. I think Mark knew and I think Mark just turned a blind eye to it. He was not in the office a lot, but our department dealt with him a lot. I know he was very involved with day-to-day decisions. It’s hard for me to believe he just dealt with basketball operations. That’s just an untrue statement. And if people want to believe that [because] they love Mark Cuban, that’s good on you, but people at the Mavs know that’s not true. That’s not what was happening.”
March 23 — Deadspin publishes a story shedding more light on the Mavericks sexual harassment problem
About a month after this story first surfaced, Deadspin offered additional details into the corrosive workplace environment, including stories about an employee that watched porn, a used condom in the office, verbal abuse and more about Sneed’s arrest and continued employment with the Mavericks.
In the story, Deadspin got to talk to Marshall, who said she hoped the report would be made public but couldn’t make any guarantees.
“It’s a culture that’s been around that long and with employees that have been around that long,” a former employee told Deadspin. “It’s gonna take a lot to scrub it clean.”
May 27 — The Dallas Morning News reports on former Mavericks employee who used porn at the office, touched himself at work
This is the infamous “Pants DJ” story, about a gross former employee who was mentioned in previous reports as the one who watched porn at his desk and was responsible for the used condom that was discovered.
Chris Hyde was the employee, who was fired in 2014. Hyde was one of the Mavericks top sellers and former employees told the DMN that they thought that was why he wasn’t fired earlier.
Marshall told Deadspin that George Prokos, a vice president mentioned in the previous Deadspin report that was alleged of verbal abusing employees, was no longer in that role with the team.
That brings us to now, where the only updates on the story since June have been Silver’s comments that he expected the report to be out by July. The Mavericks have responded to the scandal in other ways, setting up a hotline for employees to call if they encounter harassment and creating a new organization within the Mavericks with the intent to empower female employees. Recently, Marshall announced that the Dallas Mavericks Dancers will stop wearing revealing uniforms and have a “cleaner” routine.
Expect more steps taken by the Mavericks in the meantime and then whenever the report is finally complete the organization can asses further punishments and the victims can gain some closure.