It was an hour or so before tip–off. The Dallas Mavericks were hosting a nationally televised game during the 2010–11 NBA season. And, deep inside the American Airlines Center, a recently–hired Mavericks support staff employee was eating dinner in the media dining room. As the woman sat down, the team president and CEO, Terdema Ussery, asked if he could join her. She grew nervous, not because Ussery was her boss’s boss, or because he was one of the most prominent figures in the Dallas sportscape. It was because his reputation as a serial sexual harasser of women preceded him.

“You’re going to get gang-banged,” he asserted, “aren’t you?” 

“No,” the woman responded, caught off-guard. “Actually, I’m going to the movies with friends.”

“No,” Ussery insisted. “You’re definitely getting gang-banged.”

The employee was startled but not entirely surprised. When she first accepted her job with the Mavericks in 2010, she’d shared the news with her local Dallas women’s running group. Instead of congrats, she recalls, she received warnings. “Watch out for the president,” one friend said. “Whatever you do, don’t get trapped in an elevator with him.”

“It was a real life Animal House,” says one former organization employee who left recently after spending roughly five years with the Mavs. “And I only say ‘was’ because I’m not there anymore. I’m sure it’s still going on.”

Ussery, who left the Mavericks in 2015, was hardly alone. Interviews with more than a dozen former and current Mavericks employees in different departments, conducted during a months-long SPORTS ILLUSTRATED investigation, paint a 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. Most sources did not want their names used for a variety of reasons including fear of retaliation and ostracization and limits imposed by agreements they signed with the team.

While sources referred to the Mavericks office as a “locker room culture,” the team’s actual locker room was a refuge. Says one female former senior staffer: “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 shitshow. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk.”

“You don’t feel safe going to work and it’s not long before you look for another job,” says one of those women, now employed in a different sector. “And then you wonder why there aren’t more women working in sports. Really?”

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more credentialed sports executive than Terdema Ussery. A Princeton graduate, he eventually served on the school’s Board of Trustees.  He earned a master’s degree from Harvard and a law degree from Cal-Berkeley. After a few years in a white-shoe law firm, Ussery left legal practice for a career in sports and quickly arrowed to the top of the profession. He was only 32 when, in 1991, he was named commissioner of the CBA. Two years later, he was named president of Nike Sports Management, a division aimed at serving as the agents for Nike’s athletes. In 1993, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED even published a flattering profile of Ussery titled, “In a League of His Own.”


And so, instead of making formal complaints to HR, at least two women began taking contemporaneous notes on their unpleasant exchanges with Ussery and other male colleagues. They shared their written accounts with SI. A sampling of their entries:

• August/September 2007: Terdema stops me near where the main door … is and says to me “seriously … just one time.”

• Jan. 17, 2008: Terdema asks me if in another life would I marry him? I respond if it was another life I would be a millionaire and own this team and he couldn’t handle working for me.

• August 12, 2013: One woman recorded that she complained to her boss, Paul Monroe, then the Mavericks’ VP of marketing, about a culture unfriendly to women—citing Ussery’s behavior specifically. According to her notes, Monroe said he’d drive her to a meeting.  Once they were settled in his car, Monroe threatened to fire her if she “didn’t shut up and do [your] job,” telling her to “just take” the abuse from Ussery, adding “he’s the boss.”  Wrote the woman, I felt threatened not only for my safety but he was threatening my position within the company.

“During my tenure with the Mavs no employee ever reported to me that they were a victim of inappropriate behavior. I left the Mavs organization in 2014 on my own accord and in good standing to pursue other opportunities.”

• April/May 2014: Terdema sits next to me in the two chairs in front of his desk and as he is talking to me, he puts his hand on my left thigh, about halfway up the thigh.

Earl K. Sneed was a few months removed from graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a journalism degree, and he was eager to work in the NBA. In a moment right out of Shark Tank, Sneed wrote an email directly to Mark Cuban in 2009, telling the Mavs owner, “I [am] somebody that could do something for you like nobody else is doing.”

Cuban didn't respond directly, but Sneed was offered a job freelancing for the team’s website. After working with the Mavs for roughly a year, Sneed wrote Cuban again. He wanted to remain with the Mavericks but was entertaining other full-time job offers. Cuban pressed Sneed for a salary figure. Sneed responded. The two negotiated and Sneed became the team’s fulltime beat writer for Mavs.com in 2010-11.

Two months later, Sneed was arrested at the Mavericks facility and charged with assault, a class A misdemeanor. On June 28, 2012, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of family violence assault and interference with emergency request. He was sentenced to a $750 fine, supervised community service, and enrollment in an anger management program. Upon completion of his sentence the charges were dismissed. (Contacted by SI, Sneed declined comment.)

Sneed’s legal troubles had a measurable impact on his job: According to the Mavericks his assault record prevented him from gaining admission to Canada, meaning he was unable to accompany the team when it played in Toronto. This did not end Sneed’s employment with the Mavericks. It also didn’t end his acts of domestic violence. After his plea, Sneed dated a Mavericks colleague, a relationship the two made public in keeping with the team’s fraternization policies. Multiple sources tell SI that in 2014 the couple had a dispute and Sneed turned violent, hitting the woman.

Her face swollen, she went to work but within days reported the incident to her immediate supervisor and to Pittman. The woman recalls Pittman being professional and supportive; she also recalls Pittman informing her of Sneed’s prior arrest. In retrospect, she wonders how Sneed could have stayed employed. “He shouldn’t have a job there,” she says.

As for the woman, she decided the Mavericks were an unsafe work environment for her and quit her job. She signed a standard severance agreement, receiving two weeks of pay. Within days she moved back to her hometown in another state and began looking for a new position in sports. After applying for more than 250 jobs over an eight–month period, she finally landed another position in the industry, and now works for another professional team.  

About Mark Cuban. Does he have a role in—or knowledge of—this hostile work environment? It’s such a glaring question that more than a half-dozen sources, unprompted and independently,  volunteered their thoughts. To a person, they make clear that, to their knowledge, Cuban was never a perpetrator, never involved in sexual harassment himself. Yet, most also find it hard to imagine that Cuban is unaware of the corrosive culture in some corners of his organization. “Trust me, Mark knows everything that goes on,” says one longtime former Mavericks employee. “Of course Mark knew [about the instances of harassment and assault]. Everyone knew.”


Reached by SI on Monday, Cuban expressed embarrassment and horror at the accusations—but insisted he had no knowledge of the corrosive culture in his offices. “This is all new to me,” he said. “The only awareness I have is because I heard you guys were looking into some things….  Based off of what I’ve read here, we just fired our HR person. I don’t have any tolerance for what I’ve read.”

Pressed on how it is that a proudly hyperattentive owner could be so oblivious, Cuban said, “I deferred to the CEO, who at the time was Terdema, and to HR…. I was involved in basketball operations, but other than getting the financials and reports, I was not involved in the day to day [of the business side] at all. That’s why I just deferred. I let people do their jobs. And if there were anything like this at all I was supposed to be made aware, obviously I was not.”

One of the women alleging harassment has another theory: Cuban turned a blind eye as long as revenue came in. Which it did. By all accounts, under Ussery the Mavericks’ finances improved dramatically. He was instrumental in securing $240 million in public funding for the American Airlines Center, which opened in 2001. Ussery also has been credited with bringing the 2010 NBA All-Star Game to Dallas, where it was played out before 108,713 fans at AT&T Stadium. In a glowing 2011 profile in Dallas Magazine, Ussery was referred to as: “Right-hand man to Mark Cuban. Friend to NBA Commissioner David Stern. And one of the most powerful African-American executives in a league dominated by black players.” 

In the summer of 2015, Ussery left the Mavericks after 18 years with the franchise. According to Cuban, the departure had nothing to do with harassment allegations. As Ussery left, he was profuse in expressing gratitude. “[I] especially thank Mark Cuban,” Ussery said in a farewell statement emailed employees and posted on Mavs’ website. “Working alongside him these past 15 years has been nothing short of amazing.” In a line that struck some of the Mavs’ female employees—and some former co-workers who left the profession on account of his sexual harassment—as bitterly ironic, Ussery added: “I want to express my gratitude to the fans, our sponsors and most importantly, the incredible staff I’ve had the privilege of working with in Dallas.”

Ussery transitioned to another high-profile, high-power job as Under Armour’s new president for global sports. A press release dated July 16, 2015, introduced Ussery and stated that he would start work that September 14. Ussery was to play a “major role” with the company “spearheading category management across all key brand and business units around the world to drive authenticity and connectivity with consumers.”

Currently, Ussery is listed as the principal of 1 Blakely Consulting, which is registered in Texas and, on its web site, boasts the slogan: The cowards never started. The weak died along the way. That leaves us.

He remains a board member of Chicago-based TreeHouse Foods. Public records indicated that he exercised more than $800,000 in the company’s stock in 2017. Another online bio states that “Ussery is currently on sabbatical.”

Meanwhile, Cuban is just starting to deal with the fallout from the behavior of his former CEO and others. Within hours of being contacted by SI, in addition to firing Pittman and initially suspending Sneed (whom he later fired), Cuban said that the Mavs were establishing a hotline for counseling and support services for past and current team employees. He is mandating sensitivity training for all employees, himself included.

“I want to deal with this issue,” Cuban told SI. “I mean, this is, obviously there’s a problem in the Mavericks organization and we’ve got to fix it. That’s it. And we’re going to take every step. It’s not something we tolerate. I don’t want it. It’s not something that’s acceptable. I’m embarrassed, to be honest with you, that it happened under my ownership, and it needs to be fixed. Period. End of story.”

Quote 0 0
Read most of it last night. Can't really process the whole thing yet. Beyond disgusting. 
Quote 0 0
Northern Neighbour
Whoa! Cuban should be ashamed for not knowing what was going on - assuming that's true. He should hire - and hopefully has - hired forensic investigators to understand where the breakdowns occurred and who else was involved. It's not just two or three people who stayed quiet. And hope the women who were assaulted sue everyone involved as well as press charges.
Quote 0 0
Northern Neighbour
The Mavs are investigating, and, of course, Ussery denies the allegations.

Quote 0 0
Jordan was ahead of his time having sexual contracts with women
Quote 0 0
Did the corrosive behavior start at the top?  I hope not...and if it has already been determined to be a non issue then why report it in the media and ruin/taint someone's reputation (not the girl, I'm referring to the reporter)

In May 2011, a woman contacted the Portland Police Bureau to make an allegation against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and one of the most visible figures in entertainment and sports. Her complaint? That Cuban had sexually assaulted her late one night at an Old Town nightclub. The woman told police she encountered Cuban in late April at the Barrel Room, at 105 NW 3rd Ave., and asked him to pose with her for a photograph. While they smiled for the camera, she claimed, he thrust his hand down the back of her jeans and penetrated her vagina with his finger.

More Rumors in this Storyline


The woman, whom WW is not naming because she’s the alleged victim of sexual assault, agreed to a brief interview after WW obtained the police report and contacted her. She says she never contacted the media or sought publicity or compensation from Cuban and has put the incident behind her. “I really left it in the past,” she says. “I haven’t thought about it for seven years.” Now married and in her mid-30s, the woman works in the medical field and enjoys hiking with her yellow Lab. “I have a wonderful life,” she says. “I’m a happy person.” But she’s sticking to her story. “I filed the report because what he did was wrong,” she adds. “I stand behind that report 1,000 percent.”


Cuban’s attorney, Stephen Houze, strongly denies the allegations against Cuban: “These allegations are thoroughly investigated by the Multnomah County District’s Attorney’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau,” Houze said in a statement. “According to the detailed prosecution decline memo, investigators interviewed the complainant’s boyfriend and female friend, as well as employees and patrons of the bar, and other persons with Mr. Cuban and no one observed any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Cuban. “This incident never happened and her accusations are false.”


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is denying a 2011 allegation of sexual assault after a weekly alternative newspaper in Oregon published details of a case that prosecutors didn’t pursue, saying they didn’t believe there was evidence to support the claim. The report in the Willamette Week in Portland came two weeks after a Sports Illustrated account that portrayed a hostile work environment for women in the front office of the Mavericks. The woman claimed Cuban reached inside her pants and penetrated her vagina with his finger while they were taking a picture in a Portland nightclub. In an email to the Associated Press on Tuesday, Cuban wrote, “It didn’t happen.”


But around 2 am, the woman said, she and her friend went to pay their tab and encountered Cuban, who was standing by himself. “It was apparent he was very drunk,” the woman’s friend later told police. “His eyes were half closed, he was unstable on his feet, and he was slurring his words.” The alleged victim asked Cuban to pose for a picture. She told police that Cuban initially placed his right hand on her lower back. “He then moved his hand down until it was on her buttocks,” according to McGuire’s summary of the alleged victim’s statement. “Cuban then pushed his hand down the back of her jeans and inside her underwear where he cupped his hand over her groin area and inserted the tip of his finger into her vagina.”


Cuban responded to McGuire’s questions with a firm denial that mixed shock, disbelief and self-pity. “If she told five friends right there and then, then that’s what they’re gonna tell the judge and I’m gonna be fucked,” Cuban said. “Oh my God, I don’t know what to do.”


Cuban gave McGuire the names of two people who’d been with him at the Barrel Room: Lindsay McCormick, a television reporter who had worked for the Blazers, and Kevin Love, the NBA star who’d grown up in Lake Oswego and then played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. “There was tons of people around,” Cuban told McGuire. “I kept on…chest bumping Kevin Love.” The detective subsequently contacted both McCormick and Love. Neither recalled seeing or hearing anything.


Quote 0 0
Oh god...

(i'm not saying I instantly believe her, though my default position is always to believe "victims," but that kind of assault would be the easiest thing to get away with without being spotted; other people being around means jack shit. Hand on back for photo, nobody blinks an eye, 3-4 seconds tops to do the disgusting thing...)
Quote 0 0
LKeet6 wrote:
Oh god... (i'm not saying I instantly believe her, though my default position is always to believe "victims," but that kind of assault would be the easiest thing to get away with without being spotted; other people being around means jack shit. Hand on back for photo, nobody blinks an eye, 3-4 seconds tops to do the disgusting thing...)

It's almost difficult to not believe it as the victim has not attempted to receive large sums of money, seek notoriety or anything....and it's been 7 years.  NOT that THAT is any barometer to guilt or innocence (and please don't misconstrue as my intent is altruistic) but it certainly gives more credibility to what happened.
Quote 0 0
^ i basically have decided i believe it, yeah...

(also in the context of the "culture" that existed in the mavs front office, a picture emerges...)
Quote 0 0
Northern Neighbour
Don't know what to think about this one. It's possible that maybe it was someone else and could be a case of mistaken identity. Maybe Cuban was so inebriated he doesn't recall what happened. Something like this would be difficult to prove since there weren't any witnesses. In a packed club that's likely poorly lit, it would take some very keen eyes to see the assault. Also, if there were other people involved in the photo, it could very well have been someone else.
Quote 0 0
Northern Neighbour wrote:
Don't know what to think about this one. It's possible that maybe it was someone else and could be a case of mistaken identity. Maybe Cuban was so inebriated he doesn't recall what happened. Something like this would be difficult to prove since there weren't any witnesses. In a packed club that's likely poorly lit, it would take some very keen eyes to see the assault. Also, if there were other people involved in the photo, it could very well have been someone else.

The victim and the police both concur though despite that, the victim maintains 1000% her account is true. 

This was a non issue for 7 years until the article came out about the corrosive work environment.
Quote 0 0
Quote 0 0


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women's organizations but will not face any other punishment stemming from what NBA commissioner Adam Silver called "disturbing and heartbreaking" allegations of harassment and violence toward female employees within the organization, the league announced Wednesday.

The NBA launched an investigation seven months ago following a Sports Illustrated report in February which described "a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior" that spanned decades in the Mavericks' organization, including numerous allegations against former CEO and president Terdema Ussery, who left the Mavericks in 2015.

On Wednesday, the NBA responded to findings from an outside law firm that spoke to 215 current and former Mavericks employees and examined more than 1.6 million documents, emails and text messages.

The investigation found there was "improper workplace conduct" toward 15 female employees by Ussery, including inappropriate comments, touching, and forcible kissing. It also found improper workplace conduct by former ticket sales employee Chris Hyde, including inappropriate comments to women of a sexual nature and the viewing and sharing of pornographic images and videos.

The results of the investigation concluded the Mavericks' management staff was "ineffective, including a lack of compliance and internal controls." It also found the team's executive leadership not only allowed an improper workplace environment to exist, but also fostered the belief that those participating in that environment could flourish.

"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," Silver said in a statement Wednesday. "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."

Cuban, in an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols that aired Wednesday on The Jump, apologized to those that were victims of assault.

"First, just an apology to the women involved," Cuban told ESPN. "... This is not something that just is an incident and then it's over. It stays with people. It stays with families. And I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm just sorry I didn't recognize it."

While saying there was no wrongdoing on Cuban's part, the NBA did say that Cuban didn't pay enough attention to the business culture within the Mavericks' organization.

"As Mark has acknowledged, he is ultimately responsible for the culture and conduct of his employees," Silver's statement said. "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."

Cuban's $10 million donation will be earmarked for organizations that promote women's leadership and development in sports as well as those that combat domestic violence, the team said.

The maximum fine the NBA office can levy is $2.5 million.

Cuban told ESPN that he takes accountability for not knowing that women in the Mavericks' organization felt unsafe coming to work.

"In hindsight, it was staring me right in the face and I missed it," Cuban told The Jump. "You know ... I wasn't as focused on the business as I should've been."

An emotional Cuban later added: "It just never in my wildest dreams that I think that this was happening right underneath me. And I never -- 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. And the way I felt is nothing compared to the way they felt. ... I mean, I have to recognize I made a mistake, learn from it and then try to fix it."

The Mavericks have called a news conference for 4:15 p.m. ET Wednesday with Marshall, the Mavericks' new CEO who was hired five days after the SI report, and Anne Milgram, who headed the investigation that included New York-based Krutoy Law.

In the SI report, Ussery was accused of multiple acts of inappropriate behavior, including sexually suggestive comments and inappropriate touching, toward female employees during his 18 years with the team. Employees say complaints were ignored by the head of human resources as well as superiors. Ussery, who was investigated by the team after similar claims in 1998, denied the allegations to SI.

Ussery had been hired by the Mavericks prior to Cuban purchasing a majority stake in the team in January 2000.

Cuban told SI that he fired human resources director Buddy Pittman after learning details of the magazine's report, which included claims that superiors were seen as unresponsive to complaints.

The SI report said team website reporter Earl Sneed was twice accused of domestic assault while working for the Mavericks, including a guilty plea in a case that was dismissed when he met the conditions of the agreement. Sneed also was fired in February, and Cuban told ESPN then that he was solely responsible for the decision to keep Sneed on staff after learning of the second incident, which had been reported to Pittman in 2014.

At the time of the SI report, Cuban said he was not aware of "gruesome details" of the first incident in 2011 that resulted in Sneed being arrested at the Mavericks' office.

"Again, as I said, I was tone deaf," Cuban said about not firing Sneed earlier. "And I have no excuse. You know there's just -- I should have known better or I could have done better. I've learned and I've just had you know. There's just, no other way to put it."

Marshall, who also appeared in the interview aired on ESPN's The Jump on Wednesday, told Nichols that she accepted the job after making sure she wasn't "walking into something that really could not be fixed and where, you know, I wasn't working for an owner that didn't share the same values that I share."

After investigating the allegations, Marshall, who previously was the former human resources vice president and chief diversity officer at AT&T, was bothered by what she found.

"What bothers me the most is just the lack of H.R. responses, the lack of leadership responses," Marshall told ESPN. "I was hearing about things that frankly, actions should have been taken, and people should have been terminated on the spot. ... Just really a horrible culture, and Mark had already warned me. That was my mandate, to transform the culture."

"I want to make sure that people know that they matter, and that they're speaking up," Marshall said. "A speak-up culture is really, really big for me. I don't want anybody afraid to tell us what's on their mind."

Cuban told ESPN that NBA commissioner Adam Silver never discussed him selling the team, nor did Cuban ever consider it himself.

"No," Cuban said. "I don't run away from my mistakes."

Quote 0 0