LOS ANGELES: More than a dozen current and former ex-Dallas Mavericks employees have stepped forward and described the NBA team’s corporate work environment as toxic, including allegations of sexual harassment.
According to a report on Tuesday by Sports Illustrated, former Mavericks president and chief executive Terdema Ussery was named for alleged inappropriate behavior towards female employees during his almost two decades with the professional basketball team. Ussery has not been charged with any crimes and left the team three years ago.
“It was a real life Animal House,” says an unidentified former Mavs employee who left recently after spending over four years with the club. “And I only say was because I’m not there anymore. I’m sure it’s still going on.”
The Mavericks said that they are launching an internal investigation into the alleged misdeeds.
“The Dallas Mavericks have received information about behavior in our workplace that appears to have violated the organization’s standards of conduct,” the team said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
“It has been alleged that a former officer of the organization engaged in various acts of inappropriate conduct toward women over a period of years.
“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 league released a statement Tuesday night saying they would “closely monitor” the investigation and that if true “such behavior is completely unacceptable.”
“The Dallas Mavericks have informed us of the allegations involving former team president Terdema Ussery and Mavs.com writer Earl Sneed,” the league said. “This alleged conduct runs counter to the steadfast commitment of the NBA and its teams to foster safe, respectful and welcoming workplaces for all employees.
“Such behavior is completely unacceptable and we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter.”
Sports Illustrated said it spent months interviewing more than a dozen current and former employees for their story.
The article went on to say the allegations did not involve the players or their locker room, just the business offices.
Very few of the employees were willing to allow their names to be used in the story but Sports Illustrated said that is because they feared retaliation.
Ussery graduated from Princeton University. In 1997 he left Nike to become the chief executive of the Mavericks. His name was at one time floated as a possible future NBA commissioner.
“I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me,” Ussery said in a statement to Sports Illustrated on Tuesday.
“During my career with the Mavericks, I have strived to conduct myself with character, integrity and empathy for others.”
Mavericks flamboyant owner Mark Cuban told Sports Illustrated he had no knowledge of the toxic work environment in the business department.
“It’s wrong. It’s abhorrent. It’s not a situation we condone,” Cuban said.