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IMG founder McCormack dies at 72
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NEW YORK (AFP) - Mark McCormack, considered by many people as the most powerful man in global sport, died here, four months after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 72.

AFP Photo

McCormack was the founder of International Management Group (IMG), the agency which has ties throughout the sports world in promotions, representation of athletes and event operations.

The legendary McCormack had historical ties to Al Capone, the Pope and the King of Sweden. He had been in a coma at a hospital since mid-January.

McCormack's rise to the top of the sports marketing empire began in 1960 with a handshake between himself and golf legend Arnold Palmer, a pact that ignited the mainstreaming of professional athletes.

IMG provides client representation and financial management, event marketing, television representation and the production and distribution of golf's international expansion.

But McCormack's reach was felt in nearly every sport and his decisions affected every top athlete.

His stable of stars included golfers Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, tennis' Venus and Serena Williams (news - web sites), American football's Joe Montana and ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Among IMG's clients are Wimbledon (news - web sites), the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, model-actors Elizabeth Hurley (news) and Liv Tyler (news), renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kennedy Space Center (news - web sites) and the Smithsonian Institute.

McCormack also handled special projects for world leaders like Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Pope.

McCormack played a pivotal role in how athletes were paid and portrayed. His corporation employs more than 3,000 people and provides more than 5,000 hours of television programming to more than 200 countries worldwide.

A Yale University law school graduate, McCormack did not stop with Palmer.

A golf enthusiast, he followed by inking South African Gary Player and then-unknown Jack Nicklaus.

McCormack later branched out into other sports, signing tennis great Rod Laver in 1968. Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova later followed.

By 1990, McCormack was named the "Most Powerful Man in Sport" by Sports Illustrated. He also has been named the "Most Powerful Man in Tennis" and the "Most Powerful Man in Golf."

In 1991, the London Sunday Times listed him as one of the 1,000 people who have most influenced the 20th century.

McCormack, who was working at the time of his heart attack, is survived by his second wife, former tennis pro Betsy Nagelsen, four children and seven grandchildren. His three oldest children are executives at IMG.

Chicago-born McCormack suffered a fractured skull when he was six after being hit by a car.

Unable to play contact sports, he turned to golf.

He learned the sport by playing with his father and occasionally with Chicago prosecutor George E.Q. Johnson, who put Capone behind bars.

After qualifying for the US Open as an amateur, McCormack graduated from Yale law school. Following a tour of duty in the Army, he accepted a position at a prestigious Cleveland law firm, Arter and Hadden.

While there, he launched IMG with a simple handshake with Palmer.

IMG has 80 offices in 32 countries and is based in Cleveland. Under its umbrella, it is the largest independent producer of televised sports programming, top modeling agency and biggest licensing agency in the world.

IMG also has a prominent literary agency, another that manages and presents world-renowned classical musicians and a firm specializing in the development of golf courses.

McCormack also was honored by royalty. He was named a Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star by the King of Sweden for his contributions to the Nobel Foundation.

1,511 Posts
For those who don't know, Mark and Betsy are two of Monica Seles's closest friends. They played a large role in helping her come back to tennis in 1995.

I have read that Monica had such a good relationship with Mark that her association with IMG has never needed to be bound by a written contract.

Very sad, especially for Betsy. I hope he went peacefully.

618 Posts
here is Tennis Week's story

By Tennis Week

IMG founder and chairman Mark McCormack, who is credited with creating the business of sports management and went on to represent some of the greatest tennis players in the Open Era, has died in Manhattan at the age of 72. McCormack had been comatose in a New York hospital since suffering a heart attack while undergoing minor surgery on January 16th.

Last December, The Sporting News selected McCormack as one of the top 10 most powerful people in sports. In 1990, Sports Illustrated called McCormack "the most powerful man in sports."

McCormack's Cleveland-based management company IMG represents several sports stars including Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Tim Henman, Tommy Haas, Mary Joe Fernandez, golfer Tiger Woods and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

In an interview with Reuters today, Woods praised McCormack as a pioneer whose personal touch and genuine caring endeared him to his clients.

"Mark was great to my father and me and we had numerous dinners together," Woods told Reuters. "It's a loss for everybody. He was a genius when it came to sports marketing and, obviously, with his association with Arnold (Palmer), Jack (Nicklaus) and Gary (Player), they basically started sports marketing. If it wasn't for him, obviously, we wouldn't be in the position we're in right now."

According to a statement issued by IMG, 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).

An avid golfer, who was No. 1 player on the College of William and Mary team, McCormack qualified for the U.S. Open and played in several prominent American and British amateur events. After graduating from The College of William and Mary, McCormack earned a law degree from Yale University in 1954.

McCormack served a stint in the army before joining the Cleveland law firm Arter & Hadden. McCormack created IMG in 1960. Golf legend Arnold Palmer was his first client. Rod Laver was the first tennis player IMG represented. The company's cast of clients would eventually include Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl and Yannick Noah.

McCormack's involvement with tennis coincided with the Open Era and he played a primary part in creating endorsement opportunities for players and introducing tournaments to new corporate sponsors that ultimately helped increase player prize money.

Tennis became one of McCormack's favorite past-times as became a passionate recreational tennis player shortly after he began dating former pro Betsy Nagelsen. McCormack and Nagelsen, a two-time Australian Open doubles champion and Wimbledon doubles finalist, were married in 1986. The couple often played tennis with Fernandez and her husband, IMG agent Tony Godsick.

IMG's influence in tennis isn't limited to player representation. The company represents Wimbledon and owns eight professional tournaments and built the Indian Wells Tennis Stadium, home of the Pacific Life Open.

In 1987, IMG bought the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and transformed it into a multi-sport world-class complex. Now known as the IMG Academies, the Bradenton, Florida complex is an international training facility for tennis, golf, baseball, soccer, basketball and hockey. McCormack regarded the development of the IMG Academies as one of his greatest professional achievements.

IMG maintains 85 offices in 33 countries. In addition to athletes, the company also counts the Kennedy Space Center, St. Andrews golf club, the Nobel Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution among its list of clients. Bob Kain, president of IMG North and South America, and Alastair Johnston, IMG International president, have been conducting the company's day-to-day operations since McCormack's heart attack.

McCormack is survived by his wife, Betsy Nagelsen, and their five-year-old-daughter Maggie, as well as his two sons, Breck and Todd, and daughter, Leslie, from his first marriage to Nancy Breckenridge, and seven grand children. All three of McCormack's adult children work for IMG.

A private burial will be held in Chicago. There will be a memorial service on May 21st in New York.

In lieu of flowers, McCormack's family requests that donations be made in his name to support educational and public service he supported 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

17,358 Posts
It's a very sad day for tennis world, sports world, IMG and most importantly the McCormack family. :sad:

In my new place!!
22,955 Posts
Very sad, I wish my best for his family and friends.

6,853 Posts
Poor Betsy...

I've heard lotsa negative things about him through the years but he helped Monica and that makes him okay in my book. It's a shame.

2,646 Posts
my thoughts and prayers are with his family
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