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 three decades as the founder, chairman and CEO of IMG, died this morning 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.