DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks have hired former AT&T executive Cynthia Marshall as interim CEO a week after allegations of sexual misconduct against ex-team president Terdema Ussery in a report that also painted a picture of a hostile workplace for women in the franchise.
Owner Mark Cuban said Monday his mind was made up on hiring Marshall when he was told, “the most devastating day at AT&T was when (Marshall) left.”
Marshall was senior vice president of human resources at AT&T when she took on the additional role of chief diversity officer in 2015. She had more than 30 years of telecommunications experience going back to 1981 with Pacific Bell.
Sports Illustrated reported Ussery made sexually suggestive remarks to several women. He spent 18 years with the team before going to the sports apparel company Under Armour in 2015, a job he left after less than six months.
The SI report said team website reporter Earl Sneed was twice involved in domestic assault cases while working for the Mavericks, including a guilty plea in a case that was dismissed when he met the conditions of the agreement. Sneed and former human resources director Buddy Pittman were fired in the wake of the report.
“I’m honored to have been asked by Mark to join him in addressing some very serious issues,” said Marshall, who retired from AT&T last May. “I’m very saddened that issues of domestic violence and sexual harassment are so prominent in our society and allegations have surfaced once again in our organization .”
The Mavericks hired Evan Krutoy and Anne Milgram to lead an independent investigation. Krutoy served as a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for over 20 years and served as Acting Deputy Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit. Milgram is a professor at New York University School of Law, and a former New Jersey attorney general.
The NBA has said it will closely monitor the investigation.
Two women say Ussery harassed them for years, incidents that ranged from inappropriate remarks to requests for sex to touching women’s calves and thighs during meetings.
Asked how much he knew about the team’s investigation into similar allegations against Ussery two years before he bought the team in 1998, Cuban didn’t say much.
“All of that will come out from the investigative report, so I’ll defer to that,” Cuban said.
The team plans to establish a hotline for counseling and support services for past and current employees, and Cuban has said he is mandating sensitivity training for all employees, himself included. The NBA announced plans for a similar hotline a few days after the SI report.
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