The Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban are in hot water.
On Tuesday night, Sports Illustrated’s executive editor Jon Wertheim and reporter Jessica Luther released a months-long feature story on SI.com that alleged a wide-spread workplace culture of sexual harassment.
The report is based on the detailed accounts from more than a half-dozen anonymous current and former team employees. They all detail many examples and encounters of wildly inappropriate work place behavior by several prominent team executives (not players) that span almost two decades.
Responding directly to Sports Illustrated, Cuban strongly condemned the reported behavior of his former high-ranking employees who were named in the article: calling their alleged misdeeds “wrong,” and “abhorrent,” amongst other negative descriptors.
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He also said that he “did not know,” of the incidents in question and that his involvement was almost entirely on the basketball side of operations.
Finally, he announced that the organization “had notified the league office, immediately hired outside counsel to conduct a thorough and independent investigation."
As the story points out, Cuban might have a difficult time proving his assertion that he did not know about what was happening, considering his hands-on approach to running the organization.
Going forward, there are two big questions that might need to be answered. Will the NBA punish the franchise and its owner and how could they do so?
On Tuesday night, the NBA league office also issued a statement that concluded with this anecdote: “we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter."
Because Sports Illustrated had been planning out this story for months, Michael McCann, the outlet’s legal expert, provided an incredibly thorough examination of how the league might eventually conduct its own investigation into the matter. In addition, McCann theorized how the NBA (which could potentially include the other NBA owners) might, depending on their findings, punish Cuban and/or the franchise.
In summation, here are two significant findings by McCann:
- If Silver concluded that Cuban practiced “conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the Association,” meaning, in McCann’s view would be “a failure to supervise and correct the issue (workplace sexual harassment).” The commissioner, Under Article 35A of the NBA constitution could suspend the Mavericks owner for an unspecified amount of time, and/or fine Cuban personally up to $1 million.
- The harsher punishment could result from Section L of Article 24 which states: “when a situation arises which is not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws, the Commissioner shall have the authority to make such decisions, including the imposition of a penalty, as in his judgment shall be in the best interests of the Association.” Under this provision, Silver would still be able to suspend Cuban indefinitely. In addition, he would be able to fine Cuban up to $2.5 million, and force the team to forfeit draft picks.
The loss of draft picks would have a major impact on a franchise that is looking to rebuild. The Mavericks currently have the fourth-worst record in the league and are in prime position to earn a top lottery-pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
In his findings, McCann details the ways Cuban and the franchise could respond to potential punishments handed down by the league office.
He also chronicles how the issue of sexual assault in the workplace has been a major area of focus for Silver and the NBA.
McCann’s full breakdown can be found here.