“I was heavily influenced by the fact that, after reading what was initially a much longer and detailed report from the investigators, Mark Cuban was never implicated in the misconduct,” Silver said at a news conference Friday in New York at the close of the league’s board of governors meetings. “That was an important factor for me in making that decision. Should he have known, in many cases? Absolutely. But from the 215 witness interviews, over 1 million [documents], the clear picture that was presented was Mark was absentee from the business side of the organization. That was a critically important factor, and by no means though does that absolve him from responsibility.”
Rather than suspending Cuban, Silver asked him to donate $10 million to women’s groups — specifically “organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.” Silver didn’t fine Cuban that amount because he didn’t have the power to do so; the maximum that the commissioner can fine a team or individual, under the NBA’s constitution and bylaws, is $2.5 million.
Cuban’s wealth led some to question whether the punishment — both the dollar amount and the lack of a suspension — was sufficient, given that the issues highlighted by both the Sports Illustrated article and the investigation go back close to two decades.
“I’ll begin by saying I don’t know what dollar amount could possibly compensate employees over a long period of time for that kind of misconduct,” Silver said. “I had to begin from a financial standpoint with what my fining authority is. I arrived on a number that was four times that. And, while I couldn’t compel him to pay it, I went to him and thought, under the circumstances, that would be an appropriate number.
“Ten million dollars is an awful lot of money. I accept that I can’t sit here and say how that is going to change Mark Cuban’s life. But I deal with lots of wealthy people, and $10 million is a lot of money.”
Silver sent a memo to the league’s 30 teams Friday, asking all of them to adopt the 13 recommendations put forth by the investigators, who were led by former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram.
The memo also reminded teams of the steps the league took in February in the wake of Sports Illustrated’s story detailing allegations of sexual harassment and misogyny in the organization, including a leaguewide confidential hotline, an updated “respect in the workplace” policy and mandatory small-group meetings with professional experts on issues related to sexual harassment and proper workplace conduct. It also “strongly encouraged” teams to organize discussions to go over the investigation’s findings to create better dialogue on the issue.
Silver said his expectation was that all 30 teams would adopt those policies.
“I had a strong desire to move very quickly and take advantage of an otherwise ugly moment to laserlike focus our teams on these issues,” he said. “It is my expectation every one of our teams will follow those guidelines. My sense is, having sent that memo out, to the extent they are not exactly compliant in substance, they will be.”