Ex-Mavericks Employee Melissa Weishaupt Opens Up on Team Culture, Mark Cuban

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 23: View of the Dallas Mavericks logo during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 23, 2016 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

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A former employee of the Dallas Mavericks has called for a stronger response from the team in the wake of a report by Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther on inappropriate workplace behavior at the Mavericks‘ team offices. 

Melissa Weishaupt, who worked in a marketing and game operations capacity for the team from 2010 to 2014 and spoke to SI for the original story, penned a first-person essay for Sports Illustrated in which she singled out Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s response to the investigation:

“I’m using my name because I’m still not sure the Mavericks get it. Since the story broke, owner Mark Cuban has repeatedly claimed he oversaw only the basketball side of that franchise, not the business side.

“Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You own 100 percent of the team, Mark. The buck stops with you. When I worked on the Mavs’ business side, all marketing, promotional and broadcasting decisions went through you. Nothing was decided without your approval.”

Wertheim and Luther wrote about allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by Terdema Ussery, who worked as the Mavericks president and CEO until resigning in 2015.

Wertheim and Luther also reported former team beat reporter Earl K. Sneed was arrested at a team facility after being involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Sneed continued to work with the Mavericks, with sources telling Wertheim and Luther in 2014 he allegedly struck a female co-worker with whom he was in a relationship.

Speaking to Wertheim after Sports Illustrated ran the story, Cuban said the details regarding Ussery and Sneed were “all new to me.”

I talked to our HR person and again after these came up,” Cuban said. “And I was told there had been no complaints since I bought the team or even prior to that. None.”

Cuban added he subsequently fired the HR person in question.

Cuban also said he wasn’t aware of the allegations—despite how involved he is with the organization—because his focus is largely on basketball matters, rather than the day-to-day operations of the team behind the scenes.

Weishaupt questioned whether Cuban’s comments fully addressed the situation:

“I am using my name because I am convinced that Cuban still doesn’t recognize the culture he’s helped create or the plight of the women who still work for him. From where I sit, Mark’s response was to rush in like some white knight in a T-shirt and jeans and yell, ‘Don’t worry, ladies of the Mavs, I will help you with paid counseling and a hotline you can call!'”

The NBA set up a hotline for victims to confidentially report any sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.

Weishaupt alleged the Mavericks haven’t done enough to make the information about the hotline clear.  She said she spoke to a dozen current and former Mavericks employees, all of whom “have no idea what this is or how to find it.”

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