Outlining the Mavericks Sexual Misconduct Investigation
Contrary to popular belief, the NBA got this right and other professional leagues should take notice.
There is no downplaying the horrific act of sexual misconduct. Generally when allegations are brought to light the initial reaction is to punish the perpetrator(s), while many victims are forgotten. Today’s social climate accelerates this process creating a new normal. Individuals convene online and morph into public mobs that adjudicate their own judgment, fair or not. Leaving most to base their opinion on rumors absent of facts. Together MFFL’s we take a comprehensive look at the investigation and what to take from it.
The NBA Commissioner
As a fan, it’s beyond difficult to determine what lessons to take from such a regrettable situation. Last Friday, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, spoke with the media about league rule changes in addition to the Mavericks investigation and its findings. The commissioner also addressed every team via memo urging them to hire more women in leadership roles.
Adam Silver NBA Media Day address: NBA Commissioner Media Day
Silver confirmed Mark Cuban was never directly implicated in any sexual misconduct, which positively impacted the punishment. It was evident multiple people continued working for the Mavericks after clear fire-able offenses were brought to Cuban’s attention. This is essentially where Cuban was implicated. He was not firm enough when advised of each situation. Shedding additional light to this, local pundit, Mark Elfenbaum, of 103.3 ESPN Dallas, interviewed Melissa Weishaupt, former Mavs employee, who described the culture of the organization during her tenure.
Check it out here: Melissa Weishaupt Interview
With this information, we have to acknowledge the missteps made by Mark. More than likely, he was aware of improprieties but chose to take a lenient and tolerable approach. In hindsight, this was fertile ground for a toxic culture considering a male-dominated workplace had no female representation in upper management. The findings made clear that respect and common discourse were absent from the Mavs business office.
Rachel Nichols of ESPN also interviewed Cuban where she outlined several incidents detailed in the investigation. The discomfort is written all over the owners face as Rachel brings voice to what so many have read.
The nature of these episodes leaves any die-hard MFFL scratching their head. Mark is known as one of the most hands-on owners in league history. So to be implicated in such a salacious situation naturally brings skepticism.
It’s evident major mistakes were made, however, the report also acknowledged the basketball club served as a safe haven from the Sports Illustrated described “Animal House” culture. Cuban provided no excuses for the unacceptable behavior but reiterated remorse, regret, and accountability for the victims. Unfortunate scenarios such as these deserve a personal touch the Mavericks figurehead has yet to take. When pressed on whether or not he would reach out to the victims personally he parsed words skirting the question. At this point, there should be nothing more important than ensuring the well-being of the victims and working to prevent such situations from occurring again.
Both the NBA and Mark Cuban took measures seldom seen by entities in their position. Typically we expect the suspected to circle the wagons and protect their business interest at all cost. While the authority figure pursues harsh judgments that would set a precedent to others in the same position. When this situation came to light Cuban immediately expressed contrition and a willingness to support the investigation and its findings. Silver explained the measures taken by the Mavericks were rare and are not typical of corporations. Justifiably, many have called for the owners’ suspension and the team to lose draft picks, in addition to the 10 million dollar fine/ donation, but contrary to public outcry the NBA Commissioner analyzed the actions of the business prior to handing out punishment. Silver reiterated that Mark Cuban and the Mavericks response was transparent and forthcoming, included an immediate independent investigation and expressed the desire to be a part of the solution moving forward.
Leading this aggressive trend for the Mavericks is newly acquired CEO Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall. She also joined Mark Cuban on “The Jump” with Rachel Nichols. She impressively outlined what the Mavericks business culture will entail moving forward. The former AT&T executive has been tasked with overhauling the culture and creating a more inclusive environment. She wasted little time getting to work too. An upper management team that once included zero women now includes 47% women and 1/3 people of color. She was given full reign and freedom to make whatever necessary changes. The Mavericks basketball operations also took a major step forward by hiring the teams first female coach, Jenny Boucek. These are just examples of what can be done when the proper focus is applied. The ultimate hope is that other teams/ organizations take notice and understand that when adversity comes it is time to take ownership and work towards a solution.
The findings of this investigation are tough to deal with but the potential positive impact of Mark Cuban’s fine/ donation makes it easier to handle. This is easy for me to say considering I wasn’t sexually harassed. We all want to believe the teams and clubs we route for are infallible but that simply isn’t the truth. We have to acknowledge that the perpetrators described are ordinary people we would see at the grocery store or a restaurant. These folks disrespected the trust bestowed upon them and paid for it with their jobs while victims carry the scars of these incidents forever. In times like this, I encourage us all to demonstrate that the desire to punish is not greater than the desire to heal. In a society where the final score is all that matters how we play the game is still most important. Hug somebody you love!!!
Photo: Jerome Miron, USA Today
Photo: Julie Jacobson, Associated Press