SBJ/June 13-19, 2011/Labor and Agents

Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg reviews his options

Mark Steinberg, agent to Tiger Woods, said last week he plans to spend the next several weeks mulling myriad options for the next stage in his career, including joining an established agency, starting his own company, or joining with others to build a multisport agency.

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Steinberg
Steinberg left IMG, where he started his career and was most recently head of the global golf division, on May 24. Under the terms of his contract, which had been set to expire June 30, he was not allowed to speak to any potential suitors until June 1.

“I abided strictly by the terms and covenants of my agreements,” Steinberg said in a telephone interview last week. “I didn’t talk to anyone until last Wednesday [June 1]. In the last week, I have been fielding calls. … It’s been very flattering.”

Steinberg said he has not made a decision on what he will do and may take several weeks investigating what kind of business structure he wants to work in as well as what kinds of people he wants to work with.

“I am going to listen and talk with all the potential suitors, and you know, I feel as though there is going to be a decision that just feels right, and when that time comes, I will make the decision,” he said.

Steinberg said media reports speculating about his next move, as well as dollar figures reported about his and Woods’ earnings and the circumstances under which he left IMG, have not been accurate.

IMG sent out a press release May 24 stating the golf division, which Steinberg headed, had been reorganized. IMG later confirmed that Steinberg was no longer an employee. Sources told SportsBusiness Journal that he met with IMG Chief Executive Ted Forstmann earlier that day in a 30-minute meeting in Forstmann’s office.

Steinberg said he did not want to get into the blow-by-blow details of what happened out of respect for the situation. “It was simple,” he said. “IMG put an offer on the table. We could not come to terms on a new deal. That was it. We parted ways.”

He did not offer any details about his and Woods’ earnings.

IMG declined to comment further on Steinberg last week.

Steinberg, 43, has worked his entire professional career at IMG. Woods revealed last week, via Twitter, that he would continue to be represented by Steinberg, tweeting, “Staying with Mark Steinberg. Total confidence in him. Excited about the next stage in my professional life. Fond memories of [IMG’s late founder] Mark McCormack.”

Steinberg said last week he was grateful for Woods’ loyalty and would consult with him on what he plans to do in the future.

Steinberg’s other well-known golf client is retired LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam. She has not yet decided about her future representation, Steinberg said. “Annika wants to wait and see where I end up,” he said.

Much of the speculation about where Steinberg may go has centered on CAA Sports and Excel Sports Management.
SportsBusiness Journal reported in 2008 that Steinberg had met with Creative Artists Agency President Richard Lovett then, before opting to sign the 2 1/2-year employment deal with IMG that was set to end June 30. Excel Sports is a New York agency formed by NBA agent Jeff Schwartz that recently added MLB agent Casey Close as a partner. Schwartz and Close both formerly worked at IMG.

Schwartz was unavailable for immediate comment about Steinberg. Officials from CAA Sports also were unavailable for immediate comment.

Steinberg said that he knows and likes Schwartz and Close but would not comment on speculation that he might go to that company or another company. He did acknowledge that he is looking at the potential of building a multisport representation practice in partnership with others.

Steinberg also said that in addition to the traditional sports representation firms, he has been contacted by entertainment firms without a sports practice, as well as private equity firms that could help him start his own firm.

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