The Dallas Mavericks found themselves at the center of a major scandal this week, as allegations emerged of decades-long sexual misconduct violations on the part of one of their former front office executives.
Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther published a scathing expose on Wednesday about former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, uncovering a disturbing portrait of a man who routinely used his position of power to make unwanted sexual advances toward women who worked for the team.
Multiple former staffers came forward for the article, which revealed an organization-wide atmosphere that was hostile, misogynistic, and predatory toward women. Ussery is no longer employed with the Mavericks, but the ordeal begs the question of how much responsibility lays on the shoulders of team owner Mark Cuban.
Rachel Nichols raised that very question on Wednesday’s episode of The Jump, detailing an account of how Cuban failed to fire former Mavs beat writer Earl K. Sneed even after it became known he was physically abusive to his girlfriend, another Mavs employee. Nichols continued to take Cuban to task for not addressing the Ussery situation head on.
“How does a man like Mark Cuban, who repeatedly brags about how hands-on he is as an owner, who last year you might remember got caught up on the minutiae of counting the number of games beat writers attended when deciding how to hand out credentials, to say he never knew any of the stories that it took a couple of reporters just a few months to collect. And if he really didn’t know about that situation, that was clearly so pervasive, what does that say? And how many other teams have issues like this we haven’t heard about yet? The answers here won’t be easy, but we need to find them.”
Cuban has since fired Sneed and accepted responsibility for not doing so earlier, calling it a “horrible mistake.” But as Nichols points out, Cuban’s obliviousness and/or complicity in allowing the work environment inside his organization to become a hot-bed for sexual predators is inexcusable.
You can be sure that the league offices will be looking into this matter in much greater detail in the near future, and the consequences and implications could be quite serious for Cuban and many others inside the organization.