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‘Disturbing and heartbreaking’: the Mavericks investigation is over, and it’s bad

What does Mark Cuban have to answer for?

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The investigation into the Dallas Mavericks’ failure to provide a safe working environment for women over the past 20 years has concluded. It’s as bad as you’d think after reading the Jessica Luther and Jon Wertheim story that sparked the investigation. The full report can be found here. The NBA’s statement can be found here.

The Mavericks have agreed to a number of training and reporting requirements, and in lieu of the maximum $2.5 million fine that the commissioner can levy, Mark Cuban has agreed to donate $10 million to women’s groups.

What about Cuban? What did he know? The investigation — which included 215 personal interviews and more than 1 million documents reviewed — found that he was not told about former CEO Terdema Ussery’s abuses in the workplace. Cuban was, however, aware of and involved in the reaction to employee Earl Sneed’s domestic violence arrests. Sneed was arrested twice for domestic violence while employed by the Mavericks, with the second incident involving a co-worker. Cuban allowed him to keep his job both times.

To his credit, Cuban agreed to be interviewed by Rachel Nichols on The Jump on Wednesday, and he showed what appeared to be honest remorse and shame. (Nichols did an incredible job with the interview, and kudos to her team and ESPN for devoting such time to the story as, uh, other NBA news was breaking. Here’s the video and here’s the transcript.)

Cuban did not have a good answer for why he gave Sneed a third chance and frankly ensured the workplace remained unsafe for women by keeping him around. Cuban’s cluelessness about the lawlessness in his own business defies belief, frankly, given Cuban’s pose as a hands-on, elbow grease entrepreneur. (The investigation is pretty firm that Cuban didn’t know about Ussery’s abuses. It’s still hard to believe.)

But then you have new Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall telling Nichols that they installed a basketball court in the business office to try to get Cuban to come around more, and it’s news to Cuban there during an ESPN interview, and you realize that the guy still doesn’t really care about being hands-on in that section of the business. He’s essentially doing with Marshall what he did with Ussery, and simply counting on Marshall being as moral as Ussery was immoral. That works now, but what about when Marshall moves on or retires? The lesson here should be that the owner is responsible for what happens in their business. Cuban appears to understand that, but then pretty much hands over half of his business to someone else without much oversight. It’s kinda weird.

Alas, you or I aren’t the judges of Cuban’s remorse or the fairness of the penalty. Those women victimized by two decades of a toxic, dangerous workplace culture within the Mavericks and the women who had better be saved from it now are all that matter.

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Be excellent to each other.