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For Women Working For The Mavs, Former CEO's Misconduct 'Was Part Of The Job'

The American Airlines Center is the home of the Dallas Mavericks. Women interviewed for Sports Illustrated said the players always treated them with respect.

Sports Illustrated published an investigative report this week alleging former Dallas Mavericks president Terdema Ussery engaged in inappropriate conduct and created a workplace that was hostile for women.

Those reports spanned almost two decades.

"The women never really knew when they were going to be sexually harassed," reporter and author Jessica Luther said. "[They felt] there was no way to report it in a way that would result in any changes, so it was just part of the job."

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fired the team’s head of human resources and a writer for the team’s website. And the team has tapped outside counsel to investigate. Luther, who also wrote the book "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape," says questions remain about what Cuban knew and when he knew it.

Interview Highlights: Jessica Luther

On Cuban's role

“He has said repeatedly that he didn't know anything about Ussery. He told my co-author John Wertheim that he [was intensely involved] on the basketball operations side, but on the business side, he's not like that. The women we talked to have a really hard time believing that. They really believe everyone knew.

"There was another part of our story which involved a writer who pleaded guilty to domestic violence. A couple years later, another employee that he had been dating reported to the head of HR that he had hit her.

"Cuban has said that he did know about all that and he chose to keep that guy on and regrets that now.”

On whether the NBA will step in

"They basically said they're going to leave it up to the internal investigation of the Mavericks. I think many people maybe hope or expect that the NBA will do their own investigation. It seems like the NBA has inserted itself into situations like this before."

On parallels with Baylor University's sexual assault scandal

“Sports is a particular kind of space. There are a lot of men in it and women have to tiptoe through a lot of parts of it and navigate systems that weren’t designed for them. Sports is a place where we create lots of ideas about masculinity should look and should work. The same kind of stuff is at play. Then again, it was at play with Harvey Weinstein and all kinds of places.”

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.