IMG reaches settlement with former executive

Sean O'Hair (file photo)

Sean O'Hair (file photo)

IMG Worldwide reached a settlement in its lawsuit against Jon Wagner, a former employee of the Cleveland-based management firm.

The lawsuit, filed May 7 in the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas, sought injunctive relief and damages from Wagner after he left the agency April 24. IMG claimed in court documents that Wagner violated his employment agreement by soliciting IMG clients and employees. The settlement was to have been announced Aug. 14.

When senior vice president Kevin Lynch and player representative Jeff Stacy left the IMG Golf division soon after Wagner, the agency viewed the exodus as a collective move. At the same time, PGA Tour players Sean O’Hair and Trevor Immelman, former Wagner clients, departed IMG.

IMG’s main concern was Wagner’s noncompete clause in his employment contract. The language would restrict Wagner from recruiting any IMG employee for 12 months and any existing or prospective client for 24 months.

With neither party admitting wrongdoing, the settlement reaffirms the restrictions for Wagner.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Mr. Wagner in this case,” IMG spokesman Jim Gallagher said in a company statement. “As we’ve proven here, we have and will continue to take all appropriate steps to protect our rights and assets and to ensure fair competition and a level playing field in the marketplace.”

As part of the settlement, Wagner cannot employ Stacy or Lynch for as long as the restrictions in his employment agreement are valid.

Since leaving IMG, Wagner has established Milestone Sports Management in Cleveland and has signed its first corporate client, Capital One Bank, and has an eye on representing athletes.

“I have not actively pursued any players yet,” Wagner said by phone. “That will start immediately. I didn’t want any players to feel like they could get caught up in this or that they could be enjoined, so it wasn’t fair to them to do that or have any conversations, so I’ve had no conversations with anyone to this point.”

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