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Campus Wins the Papers of a Sport-marketing Pioneer

September 18, 2011
UMass Magazine
Campus Wins the Papers of a Sport-marketing Pioneer

For several weeks last spring, 50 student employees and staffers formed a book brigade at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, handling 215,000 books in their mission to clear the 24th floor. Volume by volume, shelf by shelf, they pulled books, re-shelved some on the 23rd floor, and packed others in boxes headed for the “bunker,” an off-campus depository. By June, the hundreds of shelves on the 24th floor were bare, awaiting the vast archives of Mark H. McCormack, the visionary businessman who created the sport marketing industry.

McCormack’s papers and memorabilia—meticulously stored in 8,000 boxes—will remain on campus in perpetuity. In one of the most significant gifts to the flagship campus, McCormack’s heirs selected UMass Amherst to preserve and enhance the legacy of their patriarch with the donation of his papers and a $1.5 million endowment for academic programs. In return, the library will digitize the papers, making the single most important collection on the growth and development of the sports, entertainment, and marketing industry accessible to scholars near and far. The McCormack papers will be the cornerstone of archives on innovation and entrepreneurship and will complement the library’s rich collections on social change. The Department of Sport Management, which now bears the Mark H. McCormack name, will be the nexus of new research. With the gift, the sport management department at the Isenberg School of Management becomes one of the best of the best. “Being a leader in sport management education means continually finding ways to bring fresh ideas and perspective to students and UMass Amherst can do that with the papers of this pioneer,” says Jay Monahan, who received a master’s degree in sport management in 1996 and is now a senior vice president, business development, for the PGA Tour.

To better grasp the magnitude of the gift, consider that McCormack, the founder of a multi-billion dollar industry, never took to computers or email. His influence was widely acknowledged: Tom Cruise shadowed McCormack to prepare for the role of quintessential sports agent Jerry Maguire. As McCormack built an empire representing leaders in athletics, entertainment, fashion, and other fields, he saved personal notes, letters, contracts, photographs, videotapes, and much else. Scholars will find a 1982 blueprint of renovations at the All England Club (Wimbledon) and McCormack’s college transcript. He painstakingly stored records from his global travels, business ideas, and the growth of IMG, the firm he founded in 1960. At the time of his death in 2003 at age 72, IMG had 85 offices in 35 countries and 2,000 employees. McCormack’s papers filled 36,000 boxes: UMass will receive approximately 8,000 with the greatest historical value.

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