Mark Cuban talks Trump, Parkland at Whitney Young High School

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Businessman Mark Cuban spoke to students at Whitney Young High School Friday. Cuban talked about a variety of topics, including using his money for good, his recent fine for “tanking” comments and creating a positive workplace for woment. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

When students from Parkland, Florida, gather in Washington later this month to push for gun control, at least some of them will be there courtesy of tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

Friday at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Cuban revealed he is helping to pay for flights to D.C. for students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 people were shot and killed Feb. 14.

Surviving students from the high school have responded by demanding action on gun control, traveling to their state capitol in Tallahassee and planning a rally and march in Washington, set for March 24.

Cuban was at the school to field questions from teen fans of the TV show “Shark Tank,” on which he appears.

Cuban mentioned the student movement that arose from the Parkland shooting several times.

“When kids in high school talk truth to power, that’s when the world changes,” Cuban said.

Cuban circled around a question from Whitney Young principal Joyce D. Kenner about his possible political plans, noting that no one has told him to run for president — no one, he said, except Donald Trump, who mocked the possibility in a tweet.

“We’ll see what happens in the midterm elections,” Cuban said. “I’m obviously not a fan of our current president, but … more important than what my politics are — you guys, those of you who’ll be old enough to vote, vote.”

More than 500 students gathered in the high school’s theater to ask questions; some asked for advice on handling stress at school and for his thoughts on net neutrality, while others pushed on more contentious topics. One student asked what steps Cuban is taking to change the culture of the Dallas Mavericks, the National Basketball Association team he owns, after Sports Illustrated detailed an atmosphere of sexual harassment within Cuban’s company.

Students at Whitney Young High School line up to ask Mark Cuban questions Friday. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Students at Whitney Young High School line up to ask Mark Cuban questions Friday. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Cuban said the allegations were a “shock” but that he’s hired a new female CEO, Cynthia Marshall, and brought in investigators and counselors to find out what happened.

“I will say there was a lot of embellishment in the article,” Cuban said. “There were a lot of things that weren’t true, but that doesn’t diminish the pain that the women went through. And it doesn’t diminish the respect I have for them for speaking out.”

Another student asked about Cuban’s recent “tanking” comments about the Mavericks in which he said the team’s best option — to improve its position in the NBA draft — would be losing. Those comments earned him a $600,000 fine from the NBA.

“In the NBA, they don’t always want you telling the truth, and I got fined for it,” Cuban said.

Senior student Penn Koeneman, who moderated the discussion with Kenner, followed up with a “softball question” — who would win Friday’s game between the Mavericks and Chicago Bulls?

“That’s no longer a softball question. So, hopefully, the Mavs,” Cuban said.

Cuban ended by encouraging students to participate in society.

“Have fun. Enjoy who you are. Find something that you love to do and be great at it,” Cuban said. “You’re in a moment of time now where participation means more than probably any other generation that’s come before you.”

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