NBA owner makes donation

Staff & Wire Reports

FILE - In tis Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands on stage before an NBA basketball press conference in Dallas. Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness as part of the NBA’s investigation into workplace conditions with his franchise. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)

FILE - In tis Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands on stage before an NBA basketball press conference in Dallas. Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness as part of the NBA’s investigation into workplace conditions with his franchise. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)

Mavs owner Mark Cuban donates $10M after workplace probe


AP Sports Writer

Thursday, September 20

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to help further the cause of women in sports and raise awareness about domestic violence after an investigation released Wednesday substantiated numerous incidents of sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct within the franchise going back more than 20 years.

Investigators hired by the outspoken billionaire said there was no evidence to show Cuban knew of the most explosive allegations involving former team president Terdema Ussery. But the report faulted Cuban for not firing two employees when there were clear signs he should have.

The report was made public some seven months after Sports Illustrated detailed years of examples of a hostile workplace for women on the business side of the team.

Anne Milgram, one of the lead investigators and former attorney general in New Jersey, said Cuban didn’t know many details of allegations because he was rarely in the club’s business office. It is housed away from the home arena and basketball operations.

But when some issues were brought to Cuban’s attention, he erred by not acting swiftly, the report said.

In one case, a successful ticket salesman wasn’t fired after surveillance video showed a used condom slipping out of his pants. Years earlier, Cuban had been told pornography was found on the employee’s computer, and Cuban warned him that he would be fired it happened again.

When told about the condom, Cuban was not aware of any further issues with pornography on the computer and wrote to Ussery, “Don’t make a bigger issue out of it than it is.” The employee wasn’t fired until three years later after other issues came up, including with a new female employee.

In another case, Cuban didn’t fire team website reporter Earl Sneed after learning of a second domestic violence allegation against him. The accuser was another Mavericks employee. Sneed was fired after the SI report.

“Once those decisions came to him, we found that it was incumbent upon him to get the full information in every decision he made and to get accurate picture of people’s conduct and their misconduct,” Milgram said. “It comes back to the question of you can’t be half in and half out on disciplinary decisions.”

Cuban declined to comment after the release of the reports. The findings were presented at a news conference with Milgram and Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, who was hired by Cuban within days of the SI report. Marshall made a statement but didn’t take questions.

The NBA said it is requiring the Mavericks to submit quarterly reports on implementing the recommendations in the report. Under Marshall, the Mavericks have already done many of them, including hiring women and minorities in leadership positions, establishing formal reporting and investigative protocols for misconduct allegations and adding anonymous employee surveys on workplace culture.

“The findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and heartbreaking and no employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report,” Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We appreciate that Mark Cuban reacted swiftly, thoroughly and transparently to the allegations first set forth in Sports Illustrated.”

The investigative report detailed cases of 15 women who alleged various forms of harassment by Ussery, including inappropriate comments, unwanted touching and forcible kissing. Ussery acknowledged some parts of the accounts but denied the more serious claims. Ussery’s denials lacked credibility, according to the report.

The NBA largely deferred to the investigation, which included interviews with 215 current and former Mavericks employees and the review of 1.6 million documents.

An advisory group that will include Cuban, Marshall and league representatives will determine where the $10 million will go. It is to be earmarked for groups committed the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence. By rule, the maximum fine allowed by the NBA is $2.5 million.

When the SI report came out, Ussery was three years removed from his time with the Mavericks. He had previously served as commissioner of the old Continental Basketball Association and was praised by former NBA Commissioner David Stern. Ussery left the Mavericks for the sports shoes and clothing company Under Armour but was gone from that job in less than six months.

The investigation was clearly embarrassing to Cuban. At a news conference announcing Marshall’s hiring in February, the normally outspoken star of the TV show “Shark Tank” conceded he could not explain to fans how such a hands-on owner could be unaware of such explosive allegations on the business side of his operation.

After the incident, the NBA said it reviewed its policies and procedures related to respect in the workplace, and required all NBA teams to do the same. The league also established a confidential hotline for team and league employees to report workplace misconduct.

More AP NBA:

The Conversation

Big game days in college football linked with sexual assault

September 20, 2018


Peter Siminski

Associate Professor of Economics, University of Technology Sydney

Isaac Swensen

Assistant Professor, Montana State University

Jason Lindo

Associate Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University

Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: University of Technology Sydney provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU. Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

It’s already known that students drink and party more on college football’s big game days. We found in a recent study that sexual assault also increases.

We are all economists with a keen interest in the interplay between risky behavior, crime and health.

Our analysis suggests that this rise in sexual assault during big college football games is likely due to the increased partying and alcohol consumption that accompany them. The results reaffirm the need for prevention strategies to address the negative effects of the college party culture and the role that alcohol plays in it.

Game days and victimization rates

Sexual assault on college campuses has gotten increased attention in recent years. Much of the attention has been spurred by research, such as a 2009 study that found that nearly one in five female seniors at two anonymous large public universities reported being sexually assaulted since entering college. That study found that “most sexual assaults occurred after women voluntarily consumed alcohol.”

Numerous subsequent surveys have found similar victimization rates. They include a 2015 national survey that found 11.7 percent of student respondents from 27 universities reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force or incapacitation since enrolling in college. The same survey says 10.8 percent of female students “experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since enrolling in college.”

We wanted to ask how much college events that lead to more partying and alcohol consumption also increase reports of rape. We chose to investigate the effects of Division I college football games, since these events have been shown to intensify partying and drinking on and near college campuses.

So much alcohol at college house party that air tests positive for booze.

For our analysis, we used daily reports of rape to campus and local police departments serving schools with Division I football programs over a 22-year period, specifically from 1991 to 2012. We were able to identify agencies serving 96 Division I schools.

Using these data, we estimated how much rape reports went up on game days over and above the number expected on the day of the week the game is played.

We found football games increased the rate of reported sexual assaults with 17- to 24-year-old victims by 41 percent on home game days and 15 percent on away game days. The effects are larger for schools with prominent football teams and for big games, such as rivalry games and games against ranked opponents.

Like the victims, many of the offenders were 17 to 24 years old. The effects are also larger for cases where the offenders were unknown to the victim, despite the fact that offenders are known to the victims in the majority of sexual assaults.

Partying or spectator aggression?

These effects seem to be due to increased partying and alcohol, rather than through some other mechanism associated with watching football, as we outline below.

College sports and alcohol: a controversial mix.

Our study also shows that drunkenness, drunk driving incidents, liquor law violations and public order offenses are also elevated on game days. Our results indicate that home games increase arrests for disorderly conduct by 54 percent, drunk driving by 20 percent, drunkenness by 87 percent and liquor law violations by 102 percent over two days. Consistent with the estimated effects on reports of rape, we find that away games have smaller statistically significant effects.

Finally, we examined how the game outcomes influence the size of the effect. Games that have the largest effect on alcohol offenses – upset wins – also have the largest effects on sexual assault. It seems that when a team wins unexpectedly, fans party more intensely and drink more than usual, and this is accompanied by higher rates of sexual assault.

The estimated effects are also larger for universities that have reputations as “party schools.”

Adding it up

Much has been said about the benefits of college sports. But this comes at a cost. Our estimates indicate that Football Bowl Subdivision – previously Division IA – football games lead to 724 additional rapes of college-aged victims per year, or account for 5 percent of fall semester rapes of college-aged victims on and around college campuses. There is some evidence, though not nearly as clear, that there are also effects in lower division games.

Based on our results, we think it makes sense to take some of the revenue from big-time college sports, over US $10 billion in 2017, to help address the rise in sexual assaults that accompany big college games. This could be in the form prevention programs, victim support programs and research on which programs work best.

Vulnerable US senator welcomes Trump in tight Nevada race


Associated Press

Thursday, September 20

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Republicans’ chances of keeping their majority in the U.S. Senate have become shakier as races in red states like Texas have tightened, but the party’s most vulnerable member insists he’s bullish about his re-election.

The Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller has faced tight races before but never lost an election. He’s now in the fight of his career to keep his Senate seat in a blue-trending state that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

“Oh yeah, oh yeah. I’ll win,” Heller told reporters last week in Reno.

To win, he’s performing political acrobatics, aligning himself with President Donald Trump while trying to keep his distance from the scandals surrounding the president.

“Eighty percent of what this president has done has been very, very good, very positive,” Heller said. He listed the economy, low unemployment, jobs and trade among the president’s accomplishments.

“The other 20 percent … he has a reality show. I get it. It’s a reality show,” the senator said.

Heller, who once said he “vehemently” opposed Trump and returned one of his campaign donations, is set to hold his second campaign rally and fundraiser with the president Thursday and Friday in Las Vegas.

He’s formed an alliance with Trump after drawing the president’s ire last year when he held up Republican efforts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Heller now avoids criticizing Trump and refuses to comment on his tweets, saying if he did, it would be “a full-time job and I already have one.”

When asked if Trump is an asset or liability, Heller simply mentioned Trump’s planned visit to Las Vegas and said, “I’ll be there with him.”

“As far as I’m concerned, if he’s going to be — any president, any president that comes into Nevada, I’m going to be standing with them,” Heller said. “I think that’s a plus, I think that’s a positive with any president when they come into the state.”

The president saved Heller from a costly and damaging primary battle earlier this year by persuading a further-right primary challenger, Danny Tarkanian, to drop out of the Senate race and instead seek a House seat.

Heller is now in a very tight race with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, a first-term congresswoman who stands to benefit from a wave of Democratic and female activism fueled by opposition to Trump.

To win, Heller has to get support from nonpartisans, who make up about 21 percent of the state’s active voters, while ensuring that Republicans, including those still resentful over his past criticism of Trump, vote for him.

Among the GOP, “I think everybody was angry with the fact that Dean Heller distanced himself,” said Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, a Republican campaign consultant in Las Vegas. “But Republicans, whether you are going to hold your nose and vote for Dean Heller, whether you’re one of those Republicans, I think at the end of the day, you have to look at those core values.”

Heller’s last re-election, in 2012, was razor-thin. He had a one-point victory over Democrat Shelley Berkley, a former state lawmaker who spent 15 years in Congress and ran with more name recognition than Rosen.

Heller also won that year despite Obama winning the state by nearly seven points.

But this year “is a different environment,” said Greg Ferraro, a Reno-based Republican political consultant and public relations firm owner. “Voters are probably paying attention more than they have in the past.”

Voters on both sides of the aisle know the Nevada race is key for Democrats trying to flip control of the Senate, he said, and the key question will be whether they view the race through a national lens and make it about Trump or whether they consider Heller’s record.

Heller acknowledged as much in an August interview with the Washington Examiner, saying that if Rosen “makes it about Washington, D.C., and Donald Trump, she knows she wins.”

Rosen has hammered Heller over the president’s immigration policies, the senator’s eventual support for Republican-led plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his role in crafting the GOP tax overhaul and his backing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“He’s spent the past year folding to President Trump instead of standing up for Nevada, and that’s why he’s going to lose,” Rosen spokesman Stewart Boss said in a statement.

While he’s aligned himself with Trump, Heller has focused his campaign on Nevada veterans, the improving economy and what he’s delivered while serving in the Senate since 2011. He’s painted his opponent as someone who sought a promotion after only six months in the House.

“She’s introducing herself to the rest of the state while he’s making the case that he’s been hard at work,” Ferraro said.

Heller has out-raised Rosen so far, with $10.6 million in campaign contributions to her $9.2 million. But outside groups have poured $17 million into the race — about $10 million of which was spent to oppose Heller or support Rosen, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“At this point, we’re always neck and neck,” Heller said, noting he’s won his past nine elections and state and federal offices. “We get into October, and it has a tendency of breaking. Fortunately, first nine races have broken my way.”

Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.

The Conversation

Hurricane kids: What Katrina taught us about saving Puerto Rico’s youngest storm victims

September 20, 2018


Alice Fothergill

Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont

Jenniffer Santos-Hernández

Research Professor, Centro de Investigaciones Sociales, University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras

Disclosure statement: Alice Fothergill’s research has been supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder; the Midwest Sociological Society; the University of Vermont; and Colorado State University. She is the co-author of the book Children of Katrina, part of the “The Katrina Bookshelf” collaborative research program, which was supported by the Ford, Gates, MacArthur, Rockefeller and Russell Sage foundations and sponsored by the Social Science Research Council.

Jenniffer Santos-Hernández’s research receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The catastrophe that followed Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20, 2017, affected all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million citizens.

Everyone lost power for weeks. Half of all Puerto Ricans went without electricity until Thanksgiving. Thirty-five percent celebrated Christmas in the dark. Several thousand would not see their power restored until August 2018.

Hurricane Maria’s death toll of 2,975 ranks it among the deadliest natural disasters in United States history.

Among the survivors of the storm, one group has proved especially vulnerable: Puerto Rico’s children.

The children of disasters

An estimated 657,000 people under the age of 18 lived in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit. All experienced the intensity of the storm and its disruptive aftermath.

Research shows that children exposed to disaster may go on to suffer a host of problems, including emotional disturbance, increased stress, behavioral problems, academic troubles and greater risk of illness.

It’s been 13 years since Hurricane Katrina slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast, killing 1,800 people and leaving behind a chaotic and dangerous disaster zone. Over a million people were forced to flee their homes. Evacuees scattered across the United States, from Dallas to New York.

We met hundreds of young Katrina victims while conducting research for the 2015 book “Children of Katrina,” co-authored with disaster researcher Lori Peek. The book followed a group of children between the ages of 3 and 18, primarily from New Orleans, for seven years.

Their stories offer critical lessons about how Maria’s youngest survivors can be better supported through the trauma of the hurricane and its aftermath.

What Katrina taught us

Very few children simply “bounced back” after Hurricane Katrina. After the initial period of post-storm disruption and struggle, children tended to follow one of three paths.

Some eventually found stability. They had strong family ties, reliable housing, good health, regular school attendance, supportive friendships and engaging extracurricular activities.

Other young storm victims entered what we called a “fluctuating trajectory” after Katrina. They experienced both stability and turbulence – sometimes at the same time.

For example, kids might be healthy and well housed. But, if they were living far from home – and, sometimes, from a parent – they might be distressed and getting into trouble in their new school. The ups and downs lasted for months or years.

These kids didn’t recover smoothly from Katrina. But they didn’t completely break down, either.

Some children never rebounded after the storm.

Many in this group started out in unstable settings: They came from poor, often tenuously housed families. These vulnerable children already faced difficult futures.

Katrina accelerated, intensified and solidified their challenges, triggering a downward spiral that remained serious even a decade after the storm.

After perilous evacuations from the flood zone, some children landed in unfamiliar cities. There, they struggled to make friends or even experienced hostility at schools hosting high numbers of Katrina refugees.

Other children were left homeless by Katrina. Their diets were unhealthy and unsteady. They became depressed.

Kids in this group lost years of schooling or dropped out entirely.

Schools are key to success

Disasters threaten kids’ ability to grow and thrive. They depend on adults and communities to help them survive.

Examining why Katrina’s children recovered fully, partially or not at all can inform strategies for helping young Puerto Ricans today.

School was a powerful stabilizing force in many children’s lives, our research found.

Though some New Orleans schools closed after Katrina and over 4,000 teachers were dismissed, the remaining open facilities helped students establish a regular daily routine.

The authors followed children affected by Katrina for seven years and found that they typically followed one of three paths: their lives declined markedly, they found stability or they fluctuated between instability and stability. Alice Fothergill/University of Vermont

School also gave them access to caring peers and helpful adults. Teachers in New Orleans counseled their students and encouraged them to get involved in extracurricular activities.

A few public schools used a curriculum designed specifically to help students process the disaster, using art, writing and therapy.

Social workers and school counselors, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, were a crucial support system for Katrina victims.

Schools also gave kids the opportunity to help other kids, which we found was an important path toward healing. This confirms studies documenting that youth experience positive mental health effects from assisting others.

Resources of survival

The centrality of school in Katrina recovery does not bode well for the children of Puerto Rico.

In the year since Maria, our research team visited dozens of communities across the island to compile data on the status of utilities, services and conditions. Our ongoing disaster research indicates that the future of Puerto Rico’s children is at stake.

This summer, after a tumultuous 2017 school year that began with Hurricane Maria, 265 of Puerto Rico’s 1,100 schools were closed due to dropping enrollment and education budget cuts.

The move destabilized the lives of thousands of children, who started the 2018 academic year in a different building with new teachers and, oftentimes, many challenges at home.

We recently experienced the closure of a school first-hand. In June we learned from concerned parents and teachers at Luis Muñoz Rivera Elementary School that the school would shutter. Parents protested outside the facility for weeks.

By late July, parents were confused because they still did not know which schools their kids would attend, how to get there or if services for special needs children would be available.

Schools in rural areas like Mayemel were the most likely to be shuttered in Puerto Rico’s downsizing. Such closures affect many of the same students who suffered most acutely from shortages of food, electricity, internet, clean water and other critical services for months after the storm.

Resources matter

Based on our research in New Orleans, this is cause for serious concern.

For some Puerto Rican children, Hurricane Maria was a prolonged crisis that exacerbated serious pre-existing problems like poverty, hunger or lack of stable housing.

According to the Census’ American Community Survey, 57 percent of Puerto Rican children live in poverty, versus just 21 percent of children on the mainland.

Now, some of these vulnerable kids have also lost their schools, which in New Orleans proved such a critical stabilizing factor.

School was not the only factor influencing children’s recovery after Katrina.

The New Orleans children most likely to land on their feet were those with employed and educated parents.

Such families were able to navigate the maze of multiple bureaucracies necessary to receive government assistance, insurance payouts, disaster aid, critical recovery information and the like. Their had strong social networks that could provide temporary housing and job opportunities.

We did identify a small group of less well-off children who survived the storm’s aftermath thanks to robust support from helpful teachers, counselors and shelter workers, well-funded schools, government relief programs and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity.

Children in Puerto Rico are unlikely to benefit from such resources.

The island’s slow-moving financial crisis – which resulted in a May 2017 bankruptcy – had already forced the government to slash public services before Maria.

As a result, the island has ever fewer doctors, guidance counselors, sports leagues and programs like those that provided crucial recovery support to Katrina’s less well-off victims.

Who to target

We fear many Puerto Rican children will see their life chances diminished by Hurricane Maria.

Those most at risk now are the youngsters who’ve experienced cumulative struggles: kids from poor and isolated communities that received little disaster assistance after Maria and where local schools have closed.

Lessons from Katrina tell us that, to recover from this acute trauma, such children will need well-funded public services and community support, both immediately after the storm and for years to come.

But the island’s development shows mixed outcomes and the coming years present a disconcerting financial situation.

Comment: Christopher Anderson

Come on people. Kids were also messed up after WWII, Vietnam, the murder of a parent, etc. That is life. Nothing Is perfect. stuff happens. stop whining. Start living the cards dealt.America cannot change the world. And we will not pay for it.

FILE – In tis Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands on stage before an NBA basketball press conference in Dallas. Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness as part of the NBA’s investigation into workplace conditions with his franchise. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File) – In tis Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands on stage before an NBA basketball press conference in Dallas. Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness as part of the NBA’s investigation into workplace conditions with his franchise. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)

Staff & Wire Reports