With Gimelstob gone, Kermode now a candidate to stay on as ATP president
In a shocking move two months ago, the ATP Tour board did not renew the contract of president and executive chairman Chris Kermode beyond the end of this year.
Now insiders say he could remain in the mix for the top job — with a new contract.
The uncertainty atop men’s tennis comes as the ATP Player Council meets this week in Rome to replace Justin Gimelstob, an influential power broker within the sport who resigned this spring after pleading no contest to an assault charge.
It was Gimelstob who led the charge to remove Kermode, ostensibly because prize money had not risen fast enough. Gimelstob voted with the two other player board reps not to renew Kermode, even though the council split 5-5 on the question (the council elects the player representatives and advises them). With Gimelstob gone, talk within ATP circles is that Kermode, who oversaw healthy revenue growth, could still be in the mix to lead the tour.
“Chris can just put his name in and get a new contract,” said one source close with a number of players. Another source connected to the ATP also raised the possibility of Kermode staying now that Gimelstob is out of the mix.
However, much could hinge on who emerges as the winner of this week’s council vote for a three-year term on the ATP board, which is split between tournaments and players. If it is someone seen as hardline on prize money as Gimelstob, that could dissuade Kermode from making himself available for the role again.
For now, there are about a half-dozen candidates for the board seat, including coaches, former agents and ATP officials.
Meanwhile, the ATP continues with the process of finding candidates for the president role. The tour recently hired search firm Russell Reynolds.
The source connected to the ATP said Kermode might not be willing to compete for his old job, and the search process would have to end to lure him back. Kermode counts top players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as supporters.
“The Board has a process underway to find an Executive Chairman and President for the start of 2020,” Kermode wrote to SBJ in an email. “If the Board decides that it wants to reassess its options at any point, that would be a matter for further discussion. In the meantime my focus is on finishing my tenure in the strongest way possible.”
ATP revenue has surged under Kermode as corporate sponsors bought into the high-quality circuit. In 2017, revenue was $147 million, according to the tour’s most recently available tax return, up from $92 million in 2013. (The revenue is just for the tour and does not include revenue from the individual tournaments.) The ATP hired Kermode in 2013.