Mark McCormack, the man who virtually invented sports management, remains in a coma in a New York hospital three weeks after going into cardiac arrest.
The 72-year-old, whose firm, International Management Group, have represented most of the big names from Jackie Stewart to Tiger Woods, is reported to have been taken ill after being given an anaesthetic at a dermatologist’s office on Jan 16.
The company have referred questions to a public relations firm in Los Angeles. McCormack’s three grown-up children from a previous marriage, Breck, Todd and Leslie, issued a release that said: “His blood pressure and heart rhythm are stable, although he has yet to regain consciousness.”
McCormack also has a five-year-old daughter, Maggie, from his current marriage with the former tennis star Betsy Nagelsen.
Known as The Kingmaker and the Global Godfather, McCormack has been chosen several times as the most powerful man in sport by various American publications.
IMG, who are based in Cleveland, Ohio, have 85 offices in 33 countries, employ 3,000 people and represent Monica Seles & Venus Williams, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Hall of Fame gridiron footballer Joe Montana and dozens of others.
A 1954 graduate of Yale Law School and a golfer skilled enough to have played in a US Amateur Championship with Arnold Palmer, he persuaded Palmer to become his client in 1960, telling him that athletes and sportsmen could earn money from their fame and recognition value.
The agreement was made with nothing more than a handshake. “Mark has never broken the faith of that handshake,” Palmer said later. “That meant a lot to me.”
After Palmer, McCormack signed Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, giving him the three most important golfers of the 1960s and early 1970s. Television turned them – and him – into millionaires.
In the UK he has negotiated television packages for the Wimbledon Championships and was known for many years for his regular commentating stints during BBC coverage of the Open Championship.
Obsessed with success, McCormack has been asked a number of times why he did not slow down. “People retire to do what I do every day. To play tennis with Monica Seles or golf with Arnold Palmer. To go to Wimbledon or the Olympics and be treated like a king, to write books, make speeches. As long as I can contribute, I’ll be around.”
In 2001 the US PGA awarded McCormack their distinguished service award, given to those who have made an exceptional impact on golf.
IMG’s operations continue to be run under the direction of Bob Kain, president of IMG North and South America, and Alastair Johnson, president of IMG International. Executives have refused to speculate on McCormack’s chances of recovery, but the presumption is that the longer he remains in a coma the poorer his prognosis.