Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fantastic News for the Isenberg School and Reasons to Celebrate

Today we celebrated at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. The day was filled with a special panel at the Mullins Center and a reception in our atrium to recognize the unprecedented gift of the McCormack family to our sports management department, which will now carry the McCormack name.

The vast archival collection of Mark H. McCormack, the creator of the sport management and marketing industry, and founder of the International Management Group, now IMG, will be housed at UMass Amherst, providing truly unique opportunities for research and education in the field.

This gift was made possible through the careful nurturing of the relationships with the family by the chair of the sports management department, my colleague, Professor Lisa Masteralexis, with support from our Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller.

As we were told, there are 48,000 boxes of correspondence and documents to study. Arnold Palmer was IMG's first client and others included such renowned sports figures as Chris Evert, Jean-Claude Killy, and, of course, Derek Jeter. McCormack wrote numerous books, including the bestselling What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, which spent 21 consecutive weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Terrible Truth About Lawyers.

UMass Amherst issued a press release on our acquisition of the historic collection in sports.

In addition to the remarkable value of the McCormack Collection itself, the McCormack family has made a $1.5 million gift to endow educational programs:

• The Mark H. McCormack Executive-in-Residence Program will bring sport industry executives to campus to mentor and share their knowledge and experience with students. While on campus, the executives will be interviewed by the library and department for an oral history project on the concept of innovation in the sport industry.

• The Mark H. McCormack International Partnership Program will support collaboration in sport management education across the globe and will support faculty and student travel..

The panel of McCormack family members spoke of the legacy of Mr. McCormack and responded to specific questions that the students had.

I was very impressed by the "pearls of wisdom" provided by the McCormack family panelists, who included his children and his wife. They noted that their father every day wrote dozens of letters and memos and carefully nurtured relationships and people. He never threw away a resume and was always seeking bright, new minds. His children helped to build up IMG as a major global brand and enjoyed their assignments in London, Sydney, and even years in Hong Kong. They emphasized the importance of trust, service, and taking care of their clients, some of whom (in particular, the tennis stars) came under their care when they were quite young. They also emphasized the importance of studying foreign languages, something I definitely concur with. McCormack's daughter spoke about how she majored in French and because of her knowledge of that language helped to get the Olympic skier, Jean-Claude Killy, as a client.

The panelists also noted that McCormack was perhaps the first promulgator of reality TV in that he brought together sports celebrities to compete in various challenging events from obstacle courses on. He was outstanding in identifying "events" and in organizing them, emphasizing also the spectator experience.

Today was a very special day with the dawn of a new era for the Isenberg School and the legacy of an outstanding individual and businessman. Even The Boston Globe is covering this major news story. For coverage on on Sports-Biz click here.