NBA memo 'strongly encourages' teams to adopt new harassment policies

NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a memo to all 30 teams following the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/dal" data-ylk="slk:Dallas Mavericks">Dallas Mavericks</a> investigation. (AP)
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a memo to all 30 teams following the Dallas Mavericks investigation. (AP)

The NBA has issued an internal memo that “strongly encourages” all 30 teams to adopt the same policies that the league mandated for the Dallas Mavericks in the wake of its investigation into sexual harassment and workplace misconduct in Mark Cuban’s organization, Yahoo Sports has learned.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the dissemination of the memo.

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Among other recommendations, NBA commissioner Adam Silver urged the league’s 30 franchises to:

• Increase the number of women throughout the organization, including in leadership and supervisory positions.

• Improve formal harassment reporting processes and create new paths for victims to report misconduct.

• Evaluate, and hold accountable, all executives, managers, and supervisors on their efforts to eliminate harassment and improve diversity of all kinds throughout the organization.

• Conduct anonymous workplace culture and sexual harassment climate surveys on a regular basis to understand the culture of the organization and whether problems exist.

• Provide “prompt and proportionate” and “consistent” discipline across the organization when harassment or misconduct has been substantiated.

In addition, Silver recommended that all teams hire in-house legal counsel, expand human resources departments, adopt transparent disciplinary guidelines, require regular sexual harassment training and more clearly define leadership hierarchies, especially ownership’s role in business operations.

These are all the same recommendations the league made to the Mavericks after its investigation substantiated claims of misconduct made to Sports Illustrated against former Mavericks president and CEO Terdema Ussery and former Mavs.com reporter Earl Sneed, as well as allegations levied in a Dallas Morning News report against former ticket sales employee Chris Hyde, a.k.a. “Pants DJ.”

As a result of the investigation’s findings, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has agreed to donate $10 million to organizations committed to combating domestic violence and supporting the professional development of women in the sports industry. Cuban has also taken steps to meet the NBA’s new guidelines, hiring new CEO Cynthia Marshall, who has since replaced the team’s general counsel and head of human resources, while creating new roles for executives in charge of ethics and diversity.

There is some question as to whether $10 million is accountability enough for Cuban, who was found to have made “significant errors in judgment,” particularly with respect to decisions to keep Hyde and Sneed on staff despite multiple sexual improprieties and domestic violence incidents, respectively.

For his part, Cuban has on several occasions suggested he was too hyper-focused on the team’s basketball operations to understand the full scope of misconduct on the business side. This had to have been the precipice for the league urging teams to draw clearer lines on each owner’s role.

In addition to outlining a series of recommendations following the NBA’s investigation into the Mavericks, Silver also urged each team to review the investigative report and organize “Community Conversations” to discuss its findings with employees. The memo was sent to every one of the league’s owners, team presidents, general managers, team counsel and heads of human resources.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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