Former IMG Sports CEO visits GU, shares business advice

Former CEO of IMG Sports and Entertainment Peter Johnson spoke to 150 people in Copley Formal Lounge on Monday about his experiences working in the sports industry.

Johnson, who was invited to campus by Georgetown’s Sports Industry Management program, was named the “Most Influential Agent” in 2004 by Sports Business Journal. He attributed his success to his strong work ethic and his ability to present himself well.

“It’s not what you know, it’s what they think you know,” Johnson said.

After graduating from the Wharton School of Business, Johnson got a job offer from IMG CEO Mark McCormack, known by many as the godfather of sports marketing. At IMG, Johnson represented athletes including tennis players Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl, as well as football greats Joe Montana and Herschel Walker. He also hired Tom Condon, a top NFL agent who represents the Manning brothers, and Casey Close, Derek Jeter’s agent.

After his 30-minute speech, Johnson answered questions about IMG’s success and what he wished he had done differently. In retrospect, Johnson wishes he, along with the nine other top executives at the time, bought IMG after McCormack died in 2003. Johnson left the company after clashing with Ted Forstmann, a private equity mogul who purchased the company shortly after McCormack’s death.

However, Johnson’s most important message strayed from his corporate war stories. Ultimately, he reminded the audience, the sports industry involves hard work and little pay. While plenty dream of representing superstar athletes, few make it to the top.