Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Upset in the belly of the youth sports beast

with 6 comments

Update on IMG Academies:

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune today is reporting a major shakeup at IMG Academies, the outgrowth of the Nick Bollittieri Tennis Academy, the original youth sports factory.

Two tennis instructors and an executive who helped build the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy into a world-renowned facility have been fired or encouraged to resign in a major shakeup at IMG Academies in West Bradenton.

Coaches Gabriel Jaramillo and Ted Meekma and executive Greg Breunich worked for more than 20 years at the academy — where superstars like Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova trained — and were confidantes of the facility’s namesake and founder, Nick Bollettieri.

The three have been let go in the past few weeks, as has chief financial officer Jeff McNeil.

The changes appear to be the latest move by a firm that bought IMG in 2004 and that has restructured other aspects of the company.

The departures at the tennis academy were not amicable, sources say, as Jaramillo was escorted from the property Friday afternoon by a security officer.

Each man was given severance pay, according to Jaramillo’s attorney, and signed non-disclosure and no-compete contracts that prohibit them from coaching tennis or speaking publicly about the changes.

IMG officials would not comment.

“The firm” in question is Fortsmann Little & Co., an investment firm that with IMG, the agency and the academies, is doing what firms of its ilk do — bleed every dime of cash out of it, and try to dump the burning but presumably more profitable husk on someone else. (Like it did with Topps, the card company.)

The Herald Tribune articles notes how Forstmann Little’s cost-cutting has driven out IMG agents such as Tom Condon and Casey Close, resulting the loss of high-profile, money-making clients like Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter. How exactly do you make money driving away your biggest-name conglomerates? Apparently like this:

Company officials have said publicly that their moves are aimed at making IMG even more profitable.

“Previously at IMG, one and one didn’t even equal two,” Forstmann recently told The New York Times. Now, he says, “One plus one will equal six.”

I didn’t go to business school, but on what universe does one plus one equal six? That comment, to me, explains a lot about the economic mess we’re in at the moment.


Written by rkcookjr

January 14, 2009 at 9:58 am

6 Responses

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  1. The true story can be the following: Most likely the Academy was hurting financially due to the economy crisis. With Ted, Gabe, and Greg being at the Academy for so long and being on the business side, they also got some heat for the amount of money the Academy lost on the Real Estate side. Said that, they had big and I mean HUGE salaries. Yes, they deserved it, but with a new company buying you out for $750 Million dollars, they are in it to turn things around and make money. They where forced to fire the 3 paychecks. During this process they where scared to tell Nick Bollettieri. Why? Becasue they wanted him to run the Academy positively and not for anyting to change. So they did the political thing. They started digging for information to find something wrong with these guys. Gabe was taking money under the table and doing favors for players and families. The other two made unlawful deals that where not clean. That was enough to go to Nick and convince Nick that he has been betrayed. I’m sure the Academy is not the same. Nick needs to hire some young blood to take over the business and tennis side. Someone like Sean Abdollahi. The founder of the first tennis academy who was gone from tennis for a few years doing venture capital work. He has got tons of contacts in tennis and he is an expert in teh game and business. Their is also Craig Cignarelli. He is the founder of he is a great tennis guy with knowledge and he is a business man. He may not have the academy experience but he is also likeable and very nice. Nick needs to find some new guns with names like this to take over. Someone who will give another 60 years to the game.


    March 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

  2. My nephew has been at IMG Academies for tennis and he absolutely loved it. I don’t think anyone can take place of Nick Bollettieri, and I certainly don’t think Brad Gilbert has the charm for it. Perhaps, Nick should be scouting for someone to train and grain. It takes a person with great knowledge and a person who has taken players from junior to the top. I think once you are with IMG, they can give you 10 top players to work with and here you go, you can now be on your way. If I was a tennis coach, I would jsut stick with coaching recreational players at the club few hours a day. Who needs all the competitive stuff? If USTA was smart this would be the time to connect with Nick Bollettieri so he can become the face of USTA. Nick can possibly help them find and develop players…

    James Turner

    May 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  3. Sean (shaheen) abdollahi is a fraud. Do not be fooled by this or any post referencing him as a coach of elite tennis players. These posts have been written by him in an attempt to mislead gullible parents into believing his fabrications. Beware.


    December 7, 2012 at 1:36 am

  4. I met Sean Abdollahi once to see if my kid can join his academy. I left the meeting with a bad taste. It started with him asking me “So you want free evaluation?” – this was when I told him his charges for evaluation are very high.I was not looking for a free eval, but it was lousy on his part to make that assumption. Then he said his kids can “beat” my kid. He said this even before he saw my son enter the court or carry the racquet in front of him. My 10 year old felt very bad – when he heard Sean say this. Sean came across as being pretentious. The grand finale was when he said he does not hire “American” coaches and he has only “eastern European” coaches trained in a particular way. It was indeed an obnoxious comment. And that was it I took my kid and we left.


    January 12, 2013 at 3:59 am

  5. Though I want to point out – couple of my kid’s friends go to Sea A- the kids play well. Those kids and their parents seem to be happy with him.


    January 14, 2013 at 12:27 am

  6. Anybody here send their kids to the Club Med tennis academy that Gregory started after leaving here? Is it any good? They trained anyone who has become a top ATP/WTA player?


    March 20, 2016 at 7:13 pm

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