SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Labor and Agents

IMG Golf adds agents; eyes Florida relocation

IMG Golf is reloading its agent roster after the recent loss of several high-ranking executives.

Ira Stahlberger, who previously has managed business development for TV talents Erin Andrews and Kirk Herbstreit, is taking over the representation of Luke Donald, IMG’s highest-profile golfer on the PGA Tour and a former No. 1-ranked golfer in the world standings. Stahlberger is a senior vice president in IMG’s Chicago office.

Carlos Fleming, who has managed the off-field marketing of quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Victor Cruz, is adding golfer Michelle Wie to his portfolio.

The reallocation of personnel to support golf is part of a new-look IMG Golf that soon will have a home base in Florida after 50 years of being headquartered in Cleveland.

IMG is fighting the signing of Patrick Cantlay by ex-IMG agent Mark Steinberg.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Guy Kinnings, co-managing director of the golf division, said he’s exploring Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home of the PGA Tour, and Jupiter, Fla., as sites for a new IMG office that will house close to a dozen or more employees. Jupiter is a logical site, Kinnings said, because so many professional golfers have homes there.

Cleveland has been the home to IMG Golf ever since Mark McCormack founded the company, and an office will remain there.

“The Cleveland office has always been a spiritual home base and we’ll always have some key personnel there, but there will be a golf-focused office in Florida,” Kinnings said. “That will be a new hub. … When you look at all of the media and sales people we have in New York, golf personnel in Chicago now, and offices all over the world, we have so many more golf resources now than we did before. Despite some of the things that have happened — and it hasn’t been enjoyable — we really are in a growth mode.”

IMG is not finished in the courtroom, either. After settling a breach-of-contract dispute with Jon Wagner last week, IMG now is challenging the recent signing of Patrick Cantlay by former IMG and current Excel Sports agent Mark Steinberg.

IMG alleges in Cuyahoga County (Ohio) court of common pleas that the noncompete clause in Steinberg’s old contract prohibits him from signing IMG players or prospective players for two years from his May 2011 termination date.

Cantlay, the world’s top-ranked amateur and a UCLA All-American, left school in June and signed with Steinberg. But IMG contends that Cantlay was on IMG’s recruitment list going back to Steinberg’s employment with the company, and therefore Steinberg should be restricted from signing him.

Harry Cornett, the attorney for Steinberg and Excel, said he couldn’t comment because the case is ongoing.

“We’re simply trying to protect our rights,” Kinnings said.

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