IMG dumps Tiger's longtime agent
Mark Steinberg, the agent for Tiger Woods the past 12 years and head of the IMG golf division, did not renew his contract Tuesday and is no longer with the sports management company.
''He is no longer with IMG,'' company spokesman Jim Gallagher said.
IMG announced a reorganization of its golf division Tuesday evening, with Steinberg no longer involved. The move could lead to Woods leaving Cleveland-based IMG, which has represented him his entire career.
Steinberg's contract was to expire in June.
He was negotiating a new deal with IMG on Tuesday when talks broke down, according to two officials aware of the discussions. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information.
Steinberg did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The officials said Woods and Annika Sorenstam would be free to leave IMG and stay with Steinberg if they wanted. Woods signed with IMG when he turned pro in August 1996, and Steinberg became his agent three years later.
At a press conference earlier Tuesday to promote the June 30-July 3 AT&T National outside Philadelphia, Woods was asked about his future with IMG and with Steinberg.
''I'm committed to both, with IMG, and Mark's my agent,'' Woods said. ''It's been a great relationship. I had a chance to go through a lot of . . . basically my entire professional career and learn a lot about the business.''
Woods spoke of going to several dinners with IMG founder Mark H. McCormack until he died in 2003.
''Then, obviously, my relationship with Mark (Steinberg),'' he said. ''But I'm very happy with both.''
Woods has a close relationship with Steinberg, a reserve on the Illinois basketball team that went to the Final Four in 1989. If he were to leave IMG and stay with Steinberg, it likely would not make much of a difference in his golf schedule or even his endorsements, as Steinberg did most of that work.
Steinberg has been actively seeking an endorsement for Woods' bag since late last fall.
In a two-sentence press release Tuesday evening, IMG said Guy Kinnings and Robbie Henchman would be co-heads of IMG Golf. Kinnings was senior vice president of European golf operations, while Henchman was senior vice president of golf in Asia Pacific.
Alastair Johnston, the vice chairman of IMG, will oversee the business of the golf division.
IMG's billionaire owner, 71-year-old Ted Forstmann, is battling brain cancer. In an interview published Tuesday in The New York Times, Forstmann said he wants to build IMG ''quicker than I was going to'' so he can pour the money into a charitable trust and give it away.