A Sports Illustrated report detailing widespread workplace sexual misconduct in the Dallas Mavericks organization that involved its former CEO is sending shock waves through the league and drawing sharp criticism.
The exposé, published on Tuesday, alleges that the team’s former president and CEO, Terdema Ussery, was widely known as a “serial sexual harasser.” He once asked a female employee if her weekend plans included getting “gang-banged,” the magazine reported.
“Actually, I’m going to the movies with friends,” the woman reportedly replied, to which Ussery then reportedly told her, “you’re definitely getting gang-banged.”
Ussery was part of a larger Mavericks culture of abuse that included sexual harassment and assault, as well as domestic violence, and retaliation against those who tried to report offenses, the magazine reported. Ussery denies all the allegations.
“It was a real life Animal House,” one former employee told the publication. “And I only say “was” because I’m not there anymore. I’m sure it’s still going on.”
You can read the full Sports Illustrated report here.
None of the team’s athletes are accused of misconduct, nor is the team owner, billionaire Mark Cuban. But Sports Illustrated suggested that Cuban, who told the publication he was “embarrassed ... that it happened under my ownership,” let some behavior slide. Cuban denied knowledge of the behavior, telling the magazine,“this is all new to me .... the only awareness I have is because I heard you guys were looking into some thing.”
After a flurry of complaints, the Mavericks in 1998 launched an internal investigation into Ussery, but it had no major repercussions on his career. He remained with the team for almost two decades, leaving in 2015 for a job at Under Armour, where he resigned following accusations of harassment.
The Mavericks responded to the article with a statement distancing the organization from Ussery.
“This individual left the employment of the Mavericks nearly three years ago and the Mavericks have only learned of the scope of these complaints in the past days,” the Mavericks said.
The organization said it ordered “thorough and independent investigation” of the charges. It also said that that it fired one employee who had “misled the organization about a prior domestic violence incident.”
“There is no room for such conduct in the Mavericks’ workplace — or any workplace,” the statement said.
The NBA also responded to the report, calling the alleged behavior “completely unacceptable.”