The Bulldog Initiative represents a large group of Mississippi State University friends and alumni who have volunteered to help MSU athletics achieve success in the coming years.
From donations large and small, to the volunteering of time and talents, MSU fans have answered the call to help their school’s athletes and teams within the framework of the law and NCAA Policy.
The Bulldog Initiative’s goal is simple: to promote MSU’s athletic teams by maximizing opportunities for their athletes.
Founder and Director
Charlie Winfield is the founder of The Bulldog Initiative. Charlie is a life-loyal Bulldog and a 1994 graduate of Mississippi State University. Following graduation from the University of Notre Dame Law School and later practicing law in Dallas, Texas, Charlie moved to Starkville in 2004, where he has since remained active in the community. During his 25-year career as an attorney, Charlie has devoted a significant part of his practice to advising clients on issues related to intercollegiate athletics, including NCAA compliance matters. Charlie founded The Bulldog Initiative with the goal of helping MSU athletes promote the university and the surrounding area through NIL opportunities.
Much of Mississippi State’s basketball success in the mid-1990s can be credited to the leadership and play of Marcus Grant, a two-time team captain who helped push the Bulldogs to a 22-8 record and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 1995. Now, Marcus has come home to help lead the Bulldogs to success in the competitive NIL world.
As a student at MSU, Marcus was a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in communication. His playing career was filled with big moments, perhaps none more memorable than the 23 points he scored in at upset win over No. 4 Kentucky in 1995 (MSU’s first ever victory at Rupp Arena).
After his playing days, Marcus served MSU as an assistant coach and coordinator of basketball operations for eight seasons – a span during which MSU won 20 or more games an impressive six times. Marcus most recently served for four years as an assistant basketball coach at Western Kentucky and as the associate head coach at Troy for six seasons.
Marcus’s greatest strength as a player was his versatility, as evidenced by the more than 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists he averaged as a senior. Marcus will put that same trait to work in his new role with The Bulldog Initiative, where he will work heavily in the areas of athlete relations, community engagement, and fundraising.
Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer
Ken McKinion serves as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer for The Bulldog Initiative. Following graduation from Mississippi State University in 1981, Ken pursued a career in information technology in the property / casualty insurance sector. After serving as CIO for a large international holding company, Ken joined the team of a startup software company and later served as its CEO. Since retiring in 2018, Ken has been involved assisting various non-profits in establishing and maintaining their operational infrastructure.
Director of External Relations
Emmie Perkins serves as Coordinator of External Relations. After being selected as Miss Mississippi in 2022, Emmie spent more than a year traveling across the State of Mississippi meeting with students, civic groups, and business leaders while promoting her charitable platform, which was recognized at the Miss America pageant as the contest’s most outstanding. Now, Emmie will work both within Starkville and across the state to engage with Bulldog Initiative donors and to promote her new platform of supporting MSU athletes.
Emmie is active in helping plan and organize Bulldog Initiative events, assisting athletes with their service to the community, engaging with donors, and promoting support for the Initiative in the business community.
Mary Elliott Winfield
Director of Programming and Community Relations
Mary Elliott Winfield serves as the Director of Programming and Community Relations for The Bulldog Initiative. Following graduation from Mississippi State University in 2021, Mary Elliott has worked in marketing and sales administration. She now coordinates and plans the Initiative’s activities, including charitable service within the community.
Jake Wilkinson serves as the Graphic Artist for The Bulldog Initiative. Beginning at a young age, Jake was a frequent visitor to Starkville to support the Bulldogs, and he fell in love with MSU Athletics in 2013 while watching the Bulldogs make their run to the finals of the College World Series. Jake’s graphics, which are featured on The Bulldog Initiative’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, have become a hit with the Bulldog Initiative athletes, and he frequently has professional players engaging him for his services.