ORLANDO, Fla. -- It's semantics, to a degree, but when it comes to the volatile management soap opera involving agent-killing Michelle Wie, a precise use of terms is always a boon.
According to an informed source familiar with the family's new deal, Wie's much-ballyhooed move to management giant IMG was borne of necessity, not personal choice.
Put more bluntly, Wie left for IMG because she was fired by her former management firm, the William Morris Agency.
Wie last week formally announced that she had signed on with IMG, which represents several high-powered sports clients, especially in golf, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. According to the highly placed source, the migration began when William Morris Agency last fall declined to sign Wie to another in a series of one-year contracts, which is part of the standard WMA protocol.
Even Hollywood celebs have one-year deals with the agency, because of the volatility in the industry. Today's A-list celeb is tomorrow's Celebrity Apprentice, a rule that makes sense in the athletic arena, too. However, even though the agency declined to sign Wie to an extension, her WMA agent elected to continue personally counseling the Wie family.
That is, until the agency learned that the Wies were negotiating with a sports-drink manufacturer for an endorsement deal behind WMA's back. At that point, any ties were quickly severed for good and Wie turned to IMG, the source said. IMG made background calls to industry officials before agreeing to represent the star-crossed former phenom from Hawaii, who hasn't won as a professional.
At IMG, she will be managed by her fourth different agent since turning pro shortly before her 16th birthday. Now 19, she is playing this week on the LPGA after earning her card last year at Qualifying School. The photogenic Wie originally considered signing with IMG at age 15, but went with WMA because of their potentially bigger crossover appeal beyond golf.
Given the debacle that the bumbling Wies have made of their professional circumstances by alienating a series of players, highly regarded caddies and capable agents, they need all the guidance -- and tough love -- that IMG can muster.