The family of the man who represented a number of star athletes including golf legend Arnold Palmer and who is regarded as the founder of the modern sports management industry is turning over his archives to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the school announced today.
The archives of Mark H. McCormack, who founded the International Management Group (IMG) in 1960 and who died in 2003 at the age of 72, will be delivered in installments over the next year to the university’s W.E.B. Du Bois Library, which will work with the school’s Sport Management Department in the Isenberg School of Management to digitize much of the collection for use by researchers and students worldwide, the school said.
Todd McCormack, 50, of Newton, the son of McCormack and the senior corporate vice president at New York-based IMG, said in a telephone interview that the family wanted to preserve the archives at a college or university with a sports management program and settled on UMass Amherst largely because its faculty is the most experienced in the country.
‘‘My father always had a mantra,’’ McCormack said. ‘‘Whenever we were getting into a new sport or a new area, it was always, ‘Who is the best in this business right now?’ ‘‘
The school said in a statement that the archives of the elder McCormack, who grew up in Chicago, are currently in thousands of boxes that contain letters to athletes such as golf greats Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, sports memorabilia, and IMG corporate papers.
Todd McCormack said one interesting item from the archives is a two-page, handwritten letter that Australian tennis star Rod Laver sent to his father in the 1960s, in which the player was seeking representation as his career was just beginning to take off. He said the letter harkens back to an era when athletes did not always expect large endorsement deals and other perks as soon as they turned pro.
‘‘It’s those types of little gems where you get a sense of history and how things have evolved and changed,’’ he said.
The family is also providing a $1.5 million gift to the school for related educational initiatives, including a program to bring sports industry executives to campus to mentor students. The endowment will also provide funding for students and faculty to travel abroad for research, the school said, and support studies at the Center for Spectator Sport Research, located on campus.
Todd McCormack said the archives themselves have a tremendous amount of educational value for students, a claim supported by his father’s biography posted on the school’s website.
The company McCormack founded after reaching a handshake agreement with Palmer went on to sign Nicklaus; Laver; golf and branding icon Tiger Woods; Red Sox slugger Jim Rice; tennis titans John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and Monica Seles; and former NFL running back Herschel Walker; among many others.
Trans World International, the IMG broadcast division, is the world’s largest independent television sports production company and rights distributor, according to the biography.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub said in a statement that the school will honor McCormack’s legacy with its stewardship of the archives.
‘‘I want to thank the McCormack family for selecting UMass Amherst as the steward of this unparalleled gift, which constitutes the single most significant collection documenting the growth and development of the sport management and marketing industry,’’ Holub said.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more