Work as agent keeps McNulty in the game

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Jeanne
Work as agent keeps McNulty in the game
by: Bill Schwanke of MontanaGrizzlies.Com
Thursday, January 05, 2012

Jeanne McNulty King – 12/20/2011
Audio Interview

When fellow former Lady Griz basketball player Greta Koss asked for help with her WNBA contract, Jeanne McNulty provided that help. Little did she know that Koss’s request for help would turn into a career.

Now Jeanne King, she currently splits her time in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho during the summer months and Canyon City,, Colorado south of Denver during the winter. While old injuries keep her from skiing with her husband and children, she can operate her sports agency business from wherever she’s living.

“First and foremost I’m raising my two boys,” Jeanne responded when asked what she’s doing besides running the sports agency for nearly 15 years, representing mostly female basketball players who play professionally overseas.

After graduating from the University of Montana with a degree in pre-med/zoology Jeanne was sidetracked from her original plan to go into medicine. Fresh from her stellar Lady Griz basketball career she went to Spain to continue playing. That lasted 10 days.

“Horrible, horrible experience,” she recounted.

Shortly after returning to the states she was off to Sydney, Australia where she played one season.

“That was an amazing experience,” Jeanne said. “I did a year overseas and then decided it was time to slip into the real world.”

She landed a job as a pharmaceutical representative and stuck with it for about 10 years. At that time the WNBA had begun operating and Koss was playing for Utah.

“I really knew nothing about it (being a sports agent) aside from some of the experiences I had had,” Jeanne admitted. “The Spanish experience was solely a poor agent. I signed a contract, and once I got there he didn’t exist. My agent when I went to Australia was awesome, but that’s all I knew about agents.”

She kept asking Koss, who had gone from being a developmental player to being a starter, if she was talking to Utah about her future with the team. Jeanne learned she hadn’t been, and Koss finally asked her to do it for her.

“And that’s what started the idea,” Jeanne said. “I made a phone call and they said, ‘Are you her agent?’ Then I became her agent.”

Ken Staninger had been a sports agent for some time before Jeanne started and she said he was “very helpful.”

Her greatest advantage came from having played for Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig, who already had developed a network of contacts by then.

“Getting to know some of the coaches we had played against, I was given kind of an entry in,” Jeanne said. “(They) respected Rob, knew and trusted me, and kind of gave me a start.”

Jeanne said if this whole thing had happened more recently it may have come to nothing, but back then there was a small number of agents.

Her first move was to visit players being coached by Gary Blair at the University of Arkansas.

“He took me to Rotary,” Jeanne recalled. “It was hilarious.”

But she learned as she went and still loves the work.

“It’s a lot like college recruiting,” Jeanne said. “It’s just the next step for these girls. (Even now) there’s not a lot of people out there that are teaching the college kids what to do and what to look for. It’s funny to say this, but the “Jerry McGuire” movie is kind of accurate. There’s a lot of really sleazy agents out there (and) a lot of illegal practices that go on.

“If you don’t do anything that can look wrong then you know there’s nothing going on,” she stated.

Over the years Jeanne has represented a billiards champion and some skiers and broadcasters, but primarily she deals with basketball players. She has represented anywhere from 50 to 100 clients at once but recently has tried to keep the number lower. Roughly 15 percent of her basketball clients play in the WNBA but also play year-round, joining the others overseas during the WNBA off season.

“I don’t exclude anyone because I believe everybody deserves the opportunity for representation,” Jeanne said, “but obviously I go for the All-Americans first and foremost. Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma) was my big signing last year. She’s now playing in Israel and had a great rookie season in San Antonio.”

She also represents Coco and Kelly Miller, the identical twin former Georgia stars both now playing in Turkey.

Jeanne’s most interesting and challenging experience was obtaining a Russian passport for Kelly Miller, who had to appear before Russian leader Vladimir Putin to get her passport stamped.

“It was just a heck of an ordeal and had to go through Shabtai Kalmanovich, who owned the team that also included Diana Turasi and (Australian) Lauren Jackson and that bunch,” Jeanne explained, adding that Miller was in the middle of the WNBA playoffs at the time.

Jeanne got to know Kalmanovich very well. As it turned out, the billionaire Russian-Israeli businessman – who more than once invited Jeanne and her husband, Dave, to visit him – was assassinated some three to four years later in Russia.

Since she can work out of her house while raising her children Jeanne sees no limit as to how long she can continue her chosen profession.

Sometimes she feels like a glorified babysitter to some of the players she represents, but still loves her work.

“There’s good and bad in anything, and you learn to take the good and leave the bad and learn from it,” she said.

The McNulty family was living in Lolo when Jeanne was born but moved to Stevensville right away. With five older brothers basketball wasn’t really a choice, but one she says she would have made anyway. The family moved to Whitehall when she was starting eighth grade.

“Obviously I wasn’t very excited about that, but everything turns out,” Jeanne said. “(I) came to (UM) in 1985 and loved every second of it. I still dream about it and miss it.”

She competed in basketball and track in high school, and also competed in track after her senior basketball season at UM.

During her five years at Montana – she redshirted one season due to a shoulder injury – the Lady Griz compiled a 135-18 record. As a junior and senior she was All-Big Sky Conference, All-Big Sky Tournament and All-Big Sky Academic. As a senior she was conference most valuable player, Kodak All-Region VII and the school’s Big Sky Conference Scholar-Athlete.

Career-wise she ranks fourth in scoring average, sixth in field goals made, eighth in field goals attempted and field goal percentage, and ninth in career scoring (1,327 points).

But two things beyond the statistics stand out for her: a 1990 NCAA loss to Hawaii (83-78) and teammate Vicki Austin blowing out her knee that same year.

“I truly believe had Vicki not gone down that year, I don’t know how far we could have gone,” Jeanne said. “Vicki was an amazing point guard.”

After her stint playing professionally Jeanne organized Deja Vu, a team of former Lady Griz players that played the Lady Griz and other college teams.

“That was a blast,” Jeanne noted. “I absolutely loved that. Even now when I go back for games the fans are just so open armed. We did win one year (against the Lady Griz). That might have been the end of Deja Vu.”

This year she organized a Lady Griz summer reunion.

“It’s family and connections that you’ll never lose from the most important growing times of your life,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Jeanne, when asked about playing for Selvig, remembers towels being thrown into the stands, his sports coat coming off quickly when he was upset, and the stomping of his feet – also memories she wouldn’t trade.

“I went through some tough times early on because every athlete thinks they should be playing more than they do,” Jeanne recalled. “But again, those are growing times and you learn. He’s an amazing coach. He gets the most out of his girls and creates lasting friendships.”

Jeanne said every brother played a role in her formation growing up, “great teachers of life and sports and great supporters of mine.” They also helped instill the fiery, competitive nature that became one of her trademarks as a player and still helps her in her current career. It wasn’t always a good thing for her, however.

“That’s a good quality but can also be a bad quality if you can’t get control of it,” Jeanne acknowledged. “I used to get so angry if things didn’t go right. I watched a brother go up and miss a layup, and he kicked a wall and broke his foot. I remember thinking, ‘That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.’ I really learned from that.

“When you get on the court you change,” she continued. “You’ve got to control yourself (because) you’re a different person, so imagine if I hadn’t seen that and learned from that because I know I was a little out of hand at times anyway.”

Jeanne coaches her boys in rec league basketball and last year received a comment from one of the league directors that she needed to tone it down a little, so it’s still somewhat of a struggle for her.

“It’s just who I am,” she admitted. “I can’t stand to lose at anything. It’s something I don’t even know how to do, so that’s just something that’s ingrained in you, I believe.”

She had other options besides the University of Montana, but none that she took real seriously.

“I think I always knew I would go to (UM) but I had fun looking at other places,” Jeanne said, adding that the Bobcats were never an option.

Once she got to UM she learned that losing was not an option for the Lady Griz, either. She still remembers individual plays she was involved in that grate on her.

Jeanne tries to stay in touch with former teammates. One she’s very close to is Missoula Big Sky product Ann Lake, even though they practiced together for just one season.

“When she was a redshirt freshman and I was a senior did we butt heads,” Jeanne laughed. “She was this big, strong girl and I was this thin, little thing, and she just knocked the s–t out of me every day.”

Jeanne cited one big difference between high school and college. In the latter you have more opportunity to choose your friends, and most of hers are tied to Lady Griz basketball.

“They’re who I would choose time and time again,” she said.

She finally hung up her playing shoes about four years ago after playing in a college-age tournament at the age of 40.
“I felt like I was 20 until I got up the next day and couldn’t walk,” she laughed.

While living in Billings and working as a pharmaceutical rep she and former Lady Griz teammate Marti Leibenguth organized a team to play what was then Northern Montana College in Havre. During the game Jeanne injured her knee. She called Dr. Michael Schutte, but since it was Sunday he didn’t answer.

She earlier had met Dr. David King at a wine festival in Missoula, so she called him. King advised her to come to Missoula and have Schutte do the surgery. She and David started hanging out together, and they were married in 1997. Their boys – Connor, 11, and Chandler, 8 – are opposites, according to their mother.

“Connor’s very serious (and) very smart,” Jeanne pointed out. “He’s good at anything he wants to be good at. He kind of checks things out (and) sits back and (has) a little bit of a temper, like mommy.

“Chandler will be the class clown,” she went on. ”He’s goofy. He’s fun. He’s always got a smile on his face. They keep us hopping. I can’t stand it when they fight. They do it all the time (but) they’re each other’s best friend as well.”

Asked about the impact of her UM time on her life, Jeanne leaned toward basketball, her coaches and teammates, and the ups and downs that go with playing college hoops.

“When you play at the level we played, it does define who you are, and when it’s over you’re kind of lost trying to find (yourself),” she said. “If I’m not a Lady Griz anymore, who am I? That’s a really, really big adjustment.

“I think that’s what being an agent has really done for me,” she added. “It’s enabled me to stay in the game, but again, defines me. I would want to say I’m a mom first, and that defines who I am, but I can’t imagine where I’d be without that (career).”

Jeanne McNulty KingJeanne McNulty King
2X Inc. is a full service agency that is dedicated to provide to its clients, with the client being the top priority and holding their best interests at heart, effective and personal representation that is readily accessible, holds true to its basic philosophies and principles, maintains a high level of professionalism, operates with the utmost integrity and is committed to excellence.

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