News from the Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy
For the Love of Baseball and Accounting
He is the only sports agent to ever represent both Cy Young winners in the same year. He has negotiated the largest pitcher’s contract in Major League Baseball history. He has had 115 Major League clients and worked with 38 former first round draft picks. And he is a Mississippi State accounting graduate.
When Bo McKinnis, owner of McKinnis Sports Management in Nashville, TN, graduated from high school in Virginia, his interests ranged from becoming an accountant to working on Wall Street to becoming a college baseball coach.
“Mississippi State became an easy choice for me, because of, one, Coach Ron Polk giving me the opportunity to be the student manager of the MSU baseball team; and, two, State's wonderful accounting program,” he recalls.
In McKinnis’ senior year, the Bulldogs led the nation for most of the season, setting several records that still stand. From that team, 17 played professionally at some level, with two making it to the majors – Pete Young and Jon Shave. Agents across the country wanted to sign Young, but he had other ideas.
“He, instead, said he would like for me to play the role, because of the trust he had in me,” says McKinnis. “To this day, that is probably the greatest compliment I have ever received.”
McKinnis set about working with his friend, at the same time heading to Vanderbilt to pursue an MBA, with the goal of a Wall Street career. During his first year, two other MSU players, Jody Hurst and Barry Winford, asked him to represent them.
“I loved the thought of staying in touch with my MSU friends and staying in baseball,” he remarks. “More so, I felt like God was hitting me in the head, since He had given me the loves of business and baseball, and was telling me that this career was where I belonged. With the help and advice of Coach Polk, along with some wonderful counsel from former Bulldog and then Major Leaguer Jeff Brantley, I was able to speed my knowledge of the profession and have never looked back.”
Today, McKinnis negotiates baseball playing contracts, including salaries, bonuses and other special covenants for each client. He seeks jobs for those who become free agents, and he prepares and negotiates salary arbitration cases. The agent seeks out and negotiates endorsements and appearances, primarily related to shoe and glove manufacturers and baseball card agreements. He also assists clients in managing their finances and planning for income taxes.
Some standout moments: representing then-Tampa Bay Ray David Price (now of the Boston Red Sox) and then-New York Met R.A. Dickey (now retired) when each won the 2012 Cy Young Award for his respective league; negotiating a seven-year, $217 million contract for Price with Boston – the largest pitcher's contract in MLB history, which also tied for the largest average yearly salary ever with $31 million per year; twice setting the record for negotiating the largest signing bonus ever for a pitcher in the MLB amateur draft; and setting numerous MLB salary arbitration records for largest salaries received. Former Bulldogs he has represented range from 1993 MLB first round pick Jay Powell and 2003 first rounder Paul Maholm to present Major League players Adam Frazier of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jonathan Holder of the New York Yankees, Dakota Hudson of the St. Louis Cardinals, Jacob Lindgren of the Atlanta Braves, Hunter Renfroe of the San Diego Padres, Chris Stratton of the San Francisco Giants and Brandon Woodruff of the Milwaukee Brewers.
His MSU accounting education contributes to what he is able to accomplish for his clients.
“Assisting my clients with their finances and income tax planning is a daily part of my job,” he notes. “So many people are unaware of how to make a statement of net worth for themselves or how to properly look at and manage their income and expenses. I feel very satisfied when my clients show they are confident in their financial positions based on how I'm able to present and monitor their situations for them.”
McKinnis contributes his experience back to MSU as a Bulldog Club board member, and his love of Mississippi State is shared by his family. He holds season tickets for baseball, basketball and football, and his wife Nikki and son Clayton try to make every home football game. His parents are MSU alumni, and father Archie is a 1964 accounting grad. Niece Stevie graduated in 2012 with a major in sport studies and a minor in accounting.
Asked what he enjoys most about his work, McKinnis replies, “First, God having blessed me with the two loves of business and baseball makes me feel overwhelmingly blessed when I am able to work in those areas literally every day of my life; and second, the blessing of relationships. I work for wonderful people and enjoy them every day.”