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Mark Cuban's lack of involvement in harassment spared him ban, Adam Silver says

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Stephen A.: 'Cuban should have been suspended for 6 months' (1:44)

Stephen A. Smith thinks that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban should have received a six-month suspension and a loss of a first-round draft pick. (1:44)

NEW YORK -- Some have wondered why the NBA didn't suspend Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after an investigation found that male members of the organization harassed female employees.

Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday he decided against suspending Cuban, in part, because an investigation concluded that the owner wasn't directly implicated in the conduct.

"That was an important factor for me in making that decision," Silver said Friday after the league's board of governors meetings in Manhattan. "Should he have known in many cases? Absolutely. But again, from the 215 witness interviews, the over a million pages [of documents in the report], the clear picture that was presented was Mark was absentee from the business side of the organization. So that was a critically important factor."

Cuban agreed to contribute $10 million to women's organizations, but he will not face any additional punishment stemming from allegations that male members of the Mavericks organization committed harassment and violence toward female franchise employees.

The NBA launched an investigation seven months ago into the matter following a Sports Illustrated report in February that described "a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior" that spanned decades in the Mavericks organization, including numerous allegations against former CEO and president Terdema Ussery, who left the Mavericks in 2015.

The investigation -- conducted by an outside law firm which spoke to 215 current and former Mavericks employees and examined more than 1.6 million documents, emails and text messages -- found there was "improper workplace conduct" toward 15 female employees by Ussery, including inappropriate comments, touching, and forcible kissing. It also found improper workplace conduct by former ticket-sales employee Chris Hyde, including inappropriate comments to women of a sexual nature and the viewing and sharing of pornographic images and videos.

It concluded that Cuban was not personally involved in any of the incidents of sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks organization.

Cuban told ESPN that he takes accountability for not knowing that women in the organization felt unsafe coming to work.

"In hindsight, it was staring me right in the face and I missed it," Cuban told The Jump. "You know ... I wasn't as focused on the business as I should've been."

Cuban's $10 million donation, which the NBA said in its release is "in recognition of the institutional and other failures set forth in the report," will be earmarked for organizations that promote women's leadership and development in sports as well as those that combat domestic violence, the team said. The maximum fine the NBA office can levy is $2.5 million.

Silver said Friday he decided against suspending Cuban, in part, due to his transparency during the investigation and due to the degree with which Cuban and the Mavericks implemented changes in the wake of the allegations and investigation.

"That to me is an example that I don't see in any other industry, where someone is willing to put themselves out that way and be that forthcoming and act and be that responsive," Silver said. "So given the totality of those circumstances, I ultimately decided that a suspension was not appropriate." On Friday, Silver said in a memo to all teams that the NBA would like them to implement some of the mandates the Mavericks must adhere to in the wake of the investigation. The memo also encouraged teams to hire more women, particularly in leadership and supervisory positions.

Silver asked teams to thoroughly review the report about the Mavericks. The league stopped short of flatly ordering the 29 other clubs to institute new policies, though Silver's wishes were clear.

Silver addressed the issues with team owners at the annual board of governors meeting earlier in the day.

"The No. 1 recommendation, not surprisingly, in the investigator's report is that you need women in the workplace," Silver said, "in order to have a diverse point of view, in order to ensure that ultimately that women are heard in the workplace."

The league asked clubs to have what it is calling "Community Conversations" with their own employees within the next two weeks about the investigation and subsequent report about the Mavericks.

"These are traumatic moments for people and there needs to be an opportunity to be heard and to have a full discussion about how people are feeling emotionally in these moments," Silver said.

The league urged teams to consider making more than a dozen changes, including:

  • Increasing the number of female staff, including in leadership and supervisory positions.

  • Better harassment-reporting procedures for victims of misconduct.

  • Additional commitments to ensuring that harassment is eliminated and diversity is improved.

  • Anonymous workplace-culture surveys of employees.

  • Stronger human-resource departments.

  • Sexual harassment training, with special training for managers and supervisors.

  • Having general counsel employed in-house.

The NBA established a leaguewide "Respect in the Workplace" hotline after the Mavs story broke last winter.

"All the teams in the room were very receptive to those kinds of programs and I think it was a sobering moment," Silver said. "People are looking through those lists saying, can something like this happen in my workplace? Whether it's the NBA or any other businesses they operate, what are the best practices preventing those things going forward?

"I can only say, we will redouble our efforts at the league and working with our teams to try to ensure that the kind of events that happened at the Mavericks never happen again."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.