Class of 2008
Contributions to Tennis
Off the Court
In 1990, Sports Illustrated named Mark Hume McCormack the “Most Powerful Man In Sport.” By the time his dealings in the tennis world had ended, Tennis Magazine called him the “Most Powerful Man In Tennis.”
McCormack was among the first to connect professional athletes with endorsement and sponsorship contracts and as the founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of International Management Group (IMG), he revolutionized the sporting world by making IMG into the largest athlete representation company in the world and a billion dollar entity.
For the College of William & Mary (’51) and Yale University Law School (’54) graduate, IMG began in auspicious fashion. In 1960, McCormack signed a promising young golfer named Arnold Palmer, allegedly on nothing more than a handshake. Palmer’s deal was for $5,000 to endorse golf equipment for Wilson Sporting Goods. The young executive parlayed that coup by adding the incomparable Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, providing him with golf’s “Big Three.” In 1968, he broke into the tennis world just as the Open Era was ascending on the game and signed Grand Slam champion Rod Laver. Under McCormack, IMG continued to attract tennis’s biggest stars, signing Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Björn Borg, Pete Sampras, and Monica Seles. In 1987, the burgeoning IMG acquired the Nick Bollettieri Sports Academy.
The McCormack-led IMG became the largest independent producer of televised sports programming and distributor of sports television rights. From representing a 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 sporting events, to his ability in raising thousands of dollars annually for charitable organizations through tennis, McCormack’s influence on tennis will be felt for decades to come. The Times of London shared those sentiments in 1992, naming him one of “A Thousand People Who Most Influenced The 20th Century.”
McCormack wrote several books, including The Terrible Truth About Lawyers and What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, which spent 21 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.