The National Basketball Association's (NBA) Dallas Mavericks have appointed Cynthia Marshall as their interim chief executive.
The former AT&T executive, who is also the founder of leadership and diversity consultancy Marshalling Resources, was confirmed at a press conference in Dallas on Monday. She retired from her role at the telecoms giant last May, and joins the Mavericks at a time when the team have launched an investigation into recent issues with their workplace culture.
Last week, ESPN released a report which detailed a hostile workplace for women and outlined allegations of sexual misconduct against former chief executive Terdema Ussery, who left in 2015 after 15 years with the franchise. Website reporter Earl Sneed, who was twice implicated in domestic assault cases while working for the team, was fired just before the story broke while human resources director Buddy Pittman was suspended soon after its publication.
“In my wildest dreams – and I have had some pretty big dreams and some wild dreams in my life — I never saw this coming,” said Marshall, who served as senior vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer at AT&T.
“While I grew up playing sports supporting my three children in their sports endeavours and can often be down cheering for my favorite sports teams, all of that is very different from receiving a call from the owner of an NBA team with a passionate – and I can’t express that enough – with a passionate and heartfelt invitation to contribute to sports and the community in a very unique way.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said: "Leadership at AT&T suggested her name to us and basically conveyed to us that their most devastating day at AT&T was when Cynt left. That and confirmation from untold number of people was all the confirmation I needed to hear."
The Mavericks have appointed former Manhattan prosecutor Evan Krutoy and former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram to lead an independent investigation into the culture at the organisation, with Marshall saying she was "disgusted" by the details of the Sports Illustrated story.
"I am determined, Mark is determined, that the Dallas Mavericks will be the standard," she said. "We're laying out a vision that says by 2019, the Dallas Mavericks will be the standard. We're leading the way in inclusion and diversity."
Last week, Cuban was fined US$600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast about deliberately losing in order to secure higher draft picks.