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Friday, May 16, 2003
McCormack responsible for IMG's impact
CLEVELAND -- Mark McCormack, the sports marketing pioneer whose company IMG represents Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and numerous other stars, died Friday at age 72.
McCormack died in a New York hospital four months after a heart attack left him in a coma, the Cleveland-based company said.
"Mark was great to my father and I, and we had numerous dinners together,'' Woods said after completing a 71 in the second round of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open. "It was kind of a British Open tradition to have dinner together, and it's a loss for everybody.''
McCormack made the management of athletes' careers a big business, turning success in sports into commercial marketability. The concept began in 1960 on a handshake deal with Arnold Palmer.
"I think through the years, he has had probably as much influence on sports, generally, as anyone,'' Palmer said when McCormack was first hospitalized. "He's done a tremendous job representing athletes and various type of businesses. He's touched on just about everything in the sporting world.''
At the time, McCormack was a lawyer with the Cleveland firm Arter & Hadden. The representation deal with Palmer allowed McCormack to combine his expertise in law and business with a passion -- golf. He had learned the game playing with his father and poet Carl Sandburg, who was also his godfather.
McCormack's personal philosophy was, "Be the best, learn the business, and expand by applying what you already know.''
McCormack, as chairman and chief executive officer, transformed International Management Group into a sports and entertainment complex of businesses simply known as IMG. It now has 80 offices in 32 countries and employs almost 3,000 people.
"He was a genius when it comes to sports marketing,'' said Woods, who first met McCormack as a teenager during a practice round for the U.S. Open. "If it wasn't for him obviously we wouldn't be in the position we are right now.''
The company's reach extends beyond sports, with actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Liv Tyler, and musicians Itzhak Perlman and Kiri te Kanawa among its clients.
IMG's client list includes other well-known names and trademarks, including the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the Nobel Foundation, the Kennedy Space Center and the Smithsonian Institution. McCormack even handled special projects for global leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and the pope.
IMG's list of current clients includes driver Michael Schumacher, tennis players Jennifer Capriati, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, football's Joe Montana, basketball's Charles Barkley, hockey's Jaromir Jagr and Sergei Fedorov and golf's Gary Player, Sergio Garcia and Nancy Lopez.
"He's had more impact than probably anybody in the game from a business standpoint,'' said Jack Nicklaus, who signed with IMG when he turned pro in 1962 and recently rejoined the agency. "He made golf a business.
"Look at all the things he's been involved with -- tennis, all the athletes. He made managing people a business. He made it viable. He was an innovative man.''
IMG also represents models Gisele, Tyra Banks and Kate Moss, skaters Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi, track star Michael Johnson, skier Picabo Street, broadcasters Jim Nantz and James Brown, and the USGA, the Grammys and New York Fashion Week.
IMG's broadcast division, TWI, formerly Trans World International, is an independent producer of televised sports programming and a distributor of sports TV rights.
An Army veteran with a law degree from Yale, McCormack also wrote several business advice books. McCormack had said he would never retire, and he was working when he was stricken in January.
As a golfer, McCormack played on the College of William and Mary team and qualified for the U.S. Open and several U.S. and British amateur tournaments.
McCormack was selected as one of the top 10 most powerful people in sports last December by The Sporting News. In May 1990, Sports Illustrated described McCormack as ``the most powerful man in sports.''
McCormack had three children from his first marriage to Nancy Breckenridge McCormack. His oldest son, Breck, joined IMG after law school and lives in Hong Kong, where he is president of IMG Asia and Pacific. Todd lives in Newton, Mass., and is president of TWIinteractive. Daughter Leslie works in London where she is a vice president of IMG.
A native of Chicago, McCormack married Betsy Nagelsen in 1986. Nagelsen is a two-time Australian Open doubles champion and a Wimbledon doubles finalist. Their daughter, Maggie, was born in December of 1997.
A spokeswoman for IMG declined to identify the hospital where McCormack died.
He is survived by his wife and four children. A private burial will be in Chicago, followed by a memorial on May 21 in New York.
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