NBA

Mark Cuban’s Mavericks Are Fighting Back at a Frat-House Reputation

Critics justifiably attacked Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks following allegations in 2018 of sexual misconduct on the part of team personnel taking place over a span of years. The allegations came to light in reporting by Sports Illustrated, which is once again suggesting serious misconduct by a team employee.

Cuban’s reaction the first time was a pledge to investigate the claims and make things right. This time, the Mavericks are standing firm.

The Dallas Mavericks’ reputation took a hit in 2018

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In February 2018, team owner Mark Cuban hired former AT&T executive Cynthia Marshall as CEO of the Dallas Mavericks immediately after Sports Illustrated published sexual assault and domestic violence allegations involving front-office employees.

The NBA team hired two independent investigators to sort through the allegations, and Cuban later stated that they determined that the most serious charge, a complaint of a 2011 sexual assault, never happened. However, the final report of the investigators documented widespread instances of inappropriate workplace conduct, including sexual harassment. Dozens of employees were found culpable. The Athletic reported.

Cuban followed that with a pledge to donate $10 million to organizations tasked to fighting domestic violence and supporting the professional development of women. In addition, Marshall restructured the front office to create more direct oversight and accountability.

Sports Illustrated unveils a new allegation

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With basketball fans eagerly pointing to the restart of the NBA season at Disney World, Sports Illustrated released a lengthy story Wednesday alleging sexual misconduct by a high-ranking Dallas Mavericks executive in July 2019. According to the magazine, director of player personnel Tony Ronzone convinced a woman to come back to his Las Vegas hotel room, where he allegedly made aggressive sexual advances that included groping her.

The magazine said the woman, who is an employee of the team, emailed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in September 2019 with details, triggering an investigation that the team says couldn’t be completed because of stalled communication with the accuser’s lawyers.

Ronzone has denied the allegations and does not face criminal charges; the woman never reported the alleged incident to police, the Dallas Morning News reported. Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall told the paper that nothing in the Sports Illustrated story changed the Mavericks’ position on Ronzone or the internal investigation, which pointed to inconsistencies in the woman’s account of what transpired.

Mark Cuban’s Mavericks the and magazine are fighting each other

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The Dallas Mavericks released a statement criticizing Sports Illustrated’s reporting hours after the story was released, labeling it a “one-sided, incomplete and sensational form of journalism.” Besides aggressively striking at the magazine, the Mavericks accused the woman and her attorneys of withholding information from the team’s investigators.

“Sports Illustrated has the sworn statements. Her attorneys have the sworn statements. She even offered to give the sworn statements to a neutral party, like the NBA. However, she chose not to provide the Mavericks the sworn statements that she felt were so important and claims could have changed the conclusion of the Mavericks’ investigation.”

Statement from the Dallas Mavericks

The magazine responded in kind, saying that it stood by its reporting, which it said includes sworn statements from people with whom the woman shared her account. Sports Illustrated’s statement accused the Mavericks of “victim-blaming” and “distortions.”

The decision by Sports Illustrated to publish on the eve of the NBA restart is a common strategy for maximizing attention and comes shortly after a Washington Post story about alleged sexual misconduct by employees of the Washington Football Team.

In that context, the Mavericks’ response – quick and emphatic – was surprising since companies and organizations hit with such allegations typically respond that they don’t comment on personnel matters or ongoing internal investigations.