The coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Storm spent time on his work computer viewing potentially pornographic and racist e-mails that were sent to him and he later forwarded, according to a Hillsborough County Court deposition released Thursday.
The organization announced that it is going to hold an internal investigation into Tim Marcum's computer practices.
Bill Wickett, vice president of communications for Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement company officials were disappointed to learn the news but wouldn't have any further comment. Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment owns the Storm and the Tampa Bay Lighting.
The pornography and racist e-mails became public after Marcum was deposed on Tuesday in a lawsuit involving him and the team's former owner Robert Nucci.
Marcum was being deposed after filing a lawsuit against Nucci for back wages.
Nucci, who bought the team in 2007, also filed a lawsuit last year against Marcum and businessman Woody Kern, a former owner of the Storm. Nucci contends that both men knew the league was financially floundering and kept the information from him.
Marcum has coached the Storm since 1995. He is the winningest Arena Football League coach and has helped the organization win three of its five ArenaBowl championships. Attempts to reach Marcum on Thursday were unsuccessful, and a team representative said he wouldn't comment.
According to the depositions, the pornographic videos and images show naked women and bestiality scenes, and the racial e-mails are about blacks and many are jokes targeted at President Barack Obama.
Marcum said in the deposition that he isn't a racist and shared some information with black players.
"I've certainly shown black players certain things that, you know, they've laughed their tail off," Marcum said in the deposition. "I mean, they know how I feel, they know what's in my heart, so that – none of this has anything to do with what I feel as a man."
In the deposition, Marcum admits that he viewed them and shared the information to employees and other people outside the company. He didn't think much of it and considered it something private, even though he was at work and using an office computer.
"If I'd have known it was going to become public, if I'd have known you were going to get that off my machine, I would have made those appropriate suggestions, 'Don't send me anymore, don't do that anymore,'" Marcum said in the deposition. "I thought that was mine, I thought that was a personal thing, and, you know, evidently it wasn't."
Paul Levy, attorney for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization in Washington D.C., said a lot goes on at workplaces, and some is overlooked because employers couldn't possibly control all of it. But when there's a complaint or the information becomes public, the scenario changes.
"When there is a complaint, you are subject to discipline and the employer is subject to potential liability," said Levy, who has worked in labor law and Internet free speech.