Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at Isenberg


Mark H. McCormack Snapshot


Mark H. McCormack is credited with being a legendary executive for literally inventing the field of sports marketing as the founder, chairman and CEO of International Management Group (IMG). In addition to being the world's largest athlete representation firm, IMG is the largest independent producer of TV sports programming and distributor of sports TV rights. IMG also promotes, manages and owns hundreds of sporting events throughout the world. 


    From representing the majority of top players in tennis for over four decades, to pioneering television coverage globally, to expanding the scope, size, and reach of the world's foremost events, to his ability in raising thousands of dollars annually for charitable organizations through tennis, to today's online innovations which enable fans to follow every match point, McCormack's influence on tennis will be felt for decades to come.


McCormack revolutionized the sporting world by establishing athlete representation as a distinct business discipline and by demonstrating the value of sports as a cost-effective marketing tool. This system has given economic health to the players and tennis institutions and the IMG's licensing agency, the largest in the world, its literary agency, and its affiliation with recreational amenities and world-class destination venues have further contributed to the sport. McCormack shaped the way all sports are marketed around the world.  He was first in the marketplace and his influence on the world of sports, particularly his ability to combine athlete representation and television broadcasting, will forever be a standard within the tennis industry.


Mark McCormack was the only of son of publisher Ned McCormack, and grew up in Chicago. He was a 1951 graduate of the College of William and Mary, and then Yale Law School (1954).  He also served briefly in the United States Army.


He was an accomplished athlete, qualifying for the 1958 U.S. Open Golf Championships. Thereafter, he turned to his legal profession and joined the Cleveland law firm of Arter and Hadden. In 1960 he began is journey in sports marketing, realizing the extraordinary potential in the sports arena. IMG was born, and the first sports figure signed (with a handshake) was a young golfer named Arnold Palmer - IMG's first client.


After Palmer, golfers Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus were signed. McCormack now had the three biggest names in golf and developed target marketing programs and promotions around them. He then turned to tennis, signing tennis' Grand Slam Champion Rod "The Rocket" Laver in 1968, and eventually expanded into other sports. Today, IMG has grown to be a major player in all sports markets.


By 1985, IMG's roster included Palmer, soccer's Pele, tennis players Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, skier Jean-Claude Killy, runners Sebastian Coe, Bill Rodgers, and Mary Decker Slaney, baseball star Jim Rice, and football player Herschel Walker. Additionally, two of the greatest players in golf and tennis respectively, Tiger Woods and Pete Sampras, signed under the IMG umbrella.


By joining IMG, athletes knew they would be well represented and that there was an increased earning potential outside of their sport. And with IMG, every detail was managed -- from contract negotiations to investing their earnings -- every detail was handled.


McCormack himself took an intensely personal interest in many of the athletes. Besides lasting friendships with Palmer, Killy, and hundreds of others, McCormack later in his career became a father figure to other athletes, including tennis star Monica Seles.


IMG's broadcast division Trans World International (TWI), set up in the 1960s to film a handful of golf events, is the world's largest independent television sports production company and rights distributor. McCormack also published numerous books, including the bestseller, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School.


McCormack was noted as one of the most powerful men in sports.McCormack was voted "Most Powerful Man in Tennis" by Tennis Magazine, "Most Powerful Man in Golf " by Golf Digest, and in 1990, Sports Illustrated called him "The Most Powerful Man in Sport".


In July 2006 he was selected for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the lifetime achievement category, and he was officially inducted in October 2006. Arnold Palmer accepted the induction on McCormack's behalf.