Mark H. Mccormack, The 'Most Powerful Man In Sports'
Dies At Age 72 In New York
(on the passing away of IMG Founder, Chairman and CEO Mark McCormack)
"I've known Mark McCormack since I was a teenager, and when I turned professional
in late 1961 I sought out his advice. I wanted to go to the best and Mark
McCormack was, without question, the best. He was the first and the leader
in sports management, as we know it today. Mark perhaps had a greater impact
on the game of golf, from a business perspective, than anybody in its history.
He made golf a business. Then, you look at all the other areas and arenas
he entered, and you see that he made managing people a business - a viable
business. He truly was an innovator."
"Mark McCormack was a business associate, a fellow golfer, and most important,
a friend. I always enjoyed Mark's company, from our first meetings five decades
ago to just last year when I became a client again with IMG."
"The golf world, as well as the sports and business worlds, has lost a
legend and he will be sorely missed. Personally, I will miss him a great
deal. Barbara and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to Mark's wife
Betsy, his family and his extended family at IMG."
NEW YORK - Mark Hume McCormack, the legendary executive known for, literally, inventing the field of sports marketing and recognized as "the most powerful man in sports" for four decades as the founder, chairman and CEO of IMG, has died in New York. McCormack, 72, had been in a coma since January, when he suffered cardiac arrest.
McCormack was known worldwide as the pioneer and founder of the sports marketing industry. IMG is the world's largest sports and lifestyle marketing and management company, representing the world's top athletes, broadcasters, models, classical musicians, authors, newsmakers and others. Current clients range from some of McCormack's first clients - including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Jean-Claude Killy - to Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Wimbledon, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Derek Jeter, Vince Carter, Jeff Gordon, Peyton Manning, Rich Gannon, John Madden, Bob Costas, Jack Welch, Elizabeth Hurley, Liv Tyler, Itzhak Perlman, Kiri te Kanawa, 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.
As a successful international entrepreneur, he revolutionized the sporting world by establishing athlete representation as a distinct business discipline and by demonstrating the value of sports as a cost-effective corporate marketing tool.
IMG has 80 offices in 32 countries and is based in Cleveland, where McCormack established the company in 1960. In addition to being the world's largest athlete representation firm, IMG, through its broadcast division, TWI (formerly Trans World International), is both the world's largest independent producer of televised sports programming and distributor of sports television rights. IMG also promotes, manages and owns hundreds of sporting events and classical music events throughout the world. The company is the world's largest sports marketing consultant to major corporations, IMG owns the top sports academies and its TWIinteractive is a pioneer in interactive media.
IMG's multifaceted sports and lifestyle businesses also include the #1 modeling agency in the world, the world's largest licensing agency, a prominent literary agency, an agency that manages and presents world-renowned classical music artists, and a firm specializing in the development of golf courses and other recreational amenities for world-class destination resorts.
McCormack's personal philosophy was: "Be the best, learn the business, and expand by applying what you already know." That has proven to be the formula that distinguished IMG from the many companies that have tried to mirror IMG's successes.
McCormack prided himself on his strong management team, both in the United States and around the world. Scores of the company's top executives have been with IMG for 20 or more years, leading its expansion and growth. McCormack's three oldest children - Breck, Todd and Leslie -- are executives of IMG.
Born in Chicago, McCormack suffered a fractured skull at age six when he was struck by a car. The injury prevented him from playing contact sports and led him to golf, the sport that changed his life. He learned the game playing with his father and occasionally with George E.Q. Johnson (the Chicago prosecutor who put Al Capone behind bars) and poet-historian Carl Sandburg (who was also his godfather). McCormack later attended and graduated from The College of William and Mary and then earned a law degree from Yale University. As a golfer, he played number one on the William and Mary team and qualified for the U.S. Open Championship and several U.S. and British Amateur Championships. He became a significant financial supporter of William and Mary over the years, helping with educational and recreational programs. The college is the site of the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, named for McCormack and his wife, former tennis professional Betsy Nagelsen. The McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center is the home of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Women's Hall of Fame. McCormack was also a member of the Board of Visitors of William and Mary.
|"Be the best, learn the business, and expand by applying what you already know." -Mark McCormack|
After a tour of duty in the Army, McCormack accepted a position in Cleveland with the prestigious law firm of Arter & Hadden. While there, McCormack combined his keen business and legal skills with his passion for golf. In 1960, he launched his athlete representation business on nothing more than a handshake with a young golfer whom he had met as a college player. That first client was Arnold Palmer. Soon after, McCormack signed up an unknown South African named Gary Player, and then a newly-turned professional named Jack Nicklaus.
The historic handshake between McCormack and Palmer built the foundation for IMG (originally called International Management Group). From there, McCormack opened up new opportunities for the professional and financial growth of his clients while promoting the prosperity of the sports in which they excelled.
McCormack has 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, IMG Asia and Pacific. His second son Todd lives in Newton, Massachusetts, and is president of TWIinteractive, the interactive arm of IMG. His daughter Leslie works in London, where she is Senior International Vice President of IMG.
McCormack and Betsy Nagelsen were married in 1986. She is the two-time Australian Open Doubles Champion, Wimbledon Doubles finalist and U.S. Mixed Doubles finalist. During the past decade, McCormack was often in the stands during his wife's tennis matches and nearby when she was broadcasting. Nagelsen won the 1993 Wimbledon Over-35 women's doubles championship and U.S. Open Over-35 women's doubles championship in 1993 and 1994. She has long been a tennis commentator for television outlets including ESPN, ABC and Channel Nine Australia. In December 1997, Nagelsen gave birth to Maggie McCormack, and his fourth child became another great joy in McCormack's life.
A prolific author of business books, McCormack's works included the best-selling book, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School (1984), The Terrible Truth About Lawyers (1987), What They Still Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School (1989), The 110% Solution (1991), and Hit The Ground Running (1993). He recently published the first four books of a series of business primers: McCormack on Negotiating, On Selling, On Managing and On Communicating. His most recent book was Never Wrestle With A Pig And Ninety Other Ideas To Build Your Business And Career (2002). He also wrote an internationally-syndicated column, Success Secrets, and published a Success Secrets newsletter for business executives.
McCormack was among the most-honored entrepreneurs of his time. In April 2001, the PGA of America, named McCormack as the recipient of the 2001 PGA Distinguished Service Award. This high honor is given only to those who have had a universal impact on the world of professional golf and who have helped perpetuate the values and ideals of The PGA of America. He was also named a Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star by the King of Sweden for his contributions to the Nobel Foundation. This is the country's highest honor given to a person living outside of Sweden. Ernst & Young named McCormack Entrepreneur of the Year in June 2001.
In May, 1999, ESPN's Sports Century listed him as one of the century's ten "Most Influential People in the Business of Sport." Golf Magazine has called McCormack "the most powerful man in golf" and honored him along with Arnold Palmer, Gerald Ford, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Hope, and Ben Hogan, as one of the 100 all-time "American Heroes of Golf." Tennis Magazine and Racquet Magazine have called him "the most powerful man in tennis." In May, 1990, Sports Illustrated described McCormack as "The Most Powerful Man in Sports." In 1991, the London Sunday Times listed him as one of the 1,000 people who have most influenced the twentieth century.
In May 1997, he received a Doctor of Humane Letters from the College of William and Mary. In May 1991, he received an honorary doctorate from St. Lawrence University. Last year, McCormack was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.
IMG's list of current clients include Michael Schumacher, Jennifer Capriati, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Joe Montana, Charles Barkley, Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Fedorov, Sergio Garcia, Nancy Lopez, Gisele, Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jim Nantz, James Brown, Michael Johnson, Steve Mariucci, Marty Schottenheimer, Picabo Street, the USGA, the GRAMMYS and New York Fashion Week.
McCormack was working at the time he was stricken. He always said there was no need for him ever to retire, since people retired to do just a fraction of the things he was privileged to do every day.
In addition to his wife and four children, he is survived by seven grandchildren.
Burial in Chicago will be private for the family, followed by a memorial in New York next week. Other remembrances will also take place in different parts of the world.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in McCormack's name to support educational and public service projects in which Mark McCormack was involved through the Mark H. McCormack Memorial Fund at The College of William and Mary (c/o President Tim Sullivan/The College of William and Mary/P.O. Box 8795/Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795); the Mark H. McCormack Scholarship Fund at the House of Hope (c/o Founder and President's Office/2036 36th Street, Orlando, FL 32839), or The McCormack Foundation (c/o Chris Pauletta, IMG Center, Suite 100, 1360 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114), through which the family plans to support other causes which were important to Mark McCormack.
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