The reputation of former Dallas Mavericks president and CEO Terdema Ussery preceded him. Women told Sports Illustrated that when they accepted their jobs with the Mavs, they received warnings, like, ““Watch out for the president. Whatever you do, don’t get trapped in an elevator with him.” According to a new exclusive article about the hostile work environment at the team, Ussery propositioned his female employees for sex, saying he would leave his wife if they would relent. He told one woman he knew what she was doing that weekend, and it was getting “gang-banged.” Another woman said Ussery’s inappropriate behavior was one of the reasons she quit her sales job after more than a decade.
“It was a real-life Animal House,” said one former organization employee who left recently after spending roughly five years with the Mavs, according to Sports Illustrated. “And I only say ‘was’ because I’m not there anymore. I’m sure it’s still going on.”
But Ussery, who left the Mavericks in 2015, was not the only one who made it a toxic work environment. Sports Illustrated interviewed more than a dozen former and current Maverick employees in different departments. These interviews paint a picture “of a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior: alleged public fondling by the team president; outright domestic assault by a high-profile member of the Mavs.com staff; unsupportive or even intimidating responses from superiors who heard complaints of inappropriate behavior from their employees; even an employee who openly watched pornography at his desk.” A few told SI that their only relief from the “locker room culture” was the team’s actual locker room, where the players were never anything but professional. A half-dozen female former Mavericks or American Airlines Center employees said they left the sports sector because of a work environment and structure that left them feeling vulnerable and devalued which protecting the valuable men who misbehaved.
“You don’t feel safe going to work and it’s not long before you look for another job,” says one of those women, now employed in a different sector, according to SI. “And then you wonder why there aren’t more women working in sports. Really?”