SBD/May 26, 2011/Labor and Agents

Steinberg's Departure From IMG Leaves Several Important Questions Unanswered

Mark Steinberg had been responsible for all of IMG's golf business, but he recently "had become too 'Tiger-centric,' his responsibilities toward the former No. 1-ranked player surpassing his role as head of the division," according to sources cited by Jason Sobel of Steinberg was the "decision maker … in every facet of the business" for IMG before he left the agency Tuesday. Whether Tiger Woods follows Steinberg and leaves IMG "is the main topic of interest in the short term," but there will be "bigger and perhaps more important effects of Tuesday’s news in the long run." Sobel wrote with "so much influence and power within the game, it will be worth watching how IMG continues to handle its current global business strategies." IMG employees contend that while there "will be an 'adjustment period,' they should be able to keep the status quo for now." But in this "ever-evolving golf landscape, there really is no status quo." Sobel: "The most conspicuous domino that will fall in the wake of Steinberg leaving IMG is that of Woods’ impending future -- whether he decides to remain with his longtime agent or agency" (, 5/25). Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner said this is IMG "wanting a fresh start, wanting a clean break." Lerner: "Tiger Woods made a lot of money for IMG. They made a lot of money together. He made some people rich, but also made a mess on the corporate side with this scandal.” IMG’s image "was hurt," and they "have to have understood that" (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/26).

WILL TIGER LEAVE IMG? The Guardian’s Lawrence Donegan on his Twitter feed cited “reliable sources” and reported, “Tiger Woods will be leaving his long-time agency IMG and will stay with Mark Steinberg, probably at the CAA agency. … I am told on the grapevine that IMG ‘very relaxed’ about prospect of Tiger Woods leaving” (, 5/26). Author John Feinstein said there is no way Steinberg “walks away from his job at IMG if he doesn’t know Tiger Woods is following him right through that door.” Feinstein: “Mark Steinberg without Tiger Woods is like Laurel without Hardy.” Steinberg “needs Tiger Woods in order to be viable in the business” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 5/26). YAHOO SPORTS' Shane Bacon wrote Woods "will most likely follow Steinberg wherever he goes, because there wasn't anything wrong with that relationship, and if Tiger could ever find a way to be productive again on the golf course, the sponsors would return and make the job of whoever Tiger's agent is a lot easier” (, 5/25).
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