Upset in the belly of the youth sports beast
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.