UMD athletics: Karen Stromme named Bulldogs interim athletic director

Stromme, who was entering her final week at UMD, will delay her retirement as the university searches for a replacement for Josh Berlo.

Gary Holquist and Karen Stromme
Karen Stromme, right, laughs while Gary Holquist walks behind her following their retirement press conference inside Romano Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth on Thursday.
Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Before she officially retires, former Minnesota Duluth women’s basketball coach Karen Stromme will serve a second stint as interim athletic director of the Bulldogs’ athletic department.

University of Minnesota Duluth chancellor Lendley Black announced in a letter on Monday morning that Stromme will delay her retirement to serve as UMD’s interim AD while the school searches for a replacement for Josh Berlo.

Berlo was named the Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Ritchie Center Operations at the University of Denver earlier this month. His last day with the Bulldogs is July 8 and first day with the Pioneers is July 15.

Josh Berlo has served as athletic director at the University of Minnesota Duluth since 2013. The Pioneers are members of the NCHC and NCAA Division I Summit League.

Stromme’s last day at UMD was supposed to be Friday. She and her husband, former men’s basketball coach turned senior development officer Gary Holquist, announced their retirement late last month.

Stromme served as the Bulldogs’ interim athletic director prior to Berlo’s hiring in spring of 2013, after AD and football coach Bob Neilson resigned in December of 2012 to become head football coach at Western Illinois.


“I am extremely grateful for Karen's leadership and endless dedication to UMD,” wrote Black , who is also retiring this summer. “As someone on the verge of my own retirement, I have the utmost respect for Karen and her willingness to stay with us to help ensure a smooth transition.”

Duluth couple started out coaching basketball before making an impact in administration.

The University of Minnesota has not announced a permanent or interim replacement for Black, however, that will not delay the start of the search for Berlo’s replacement. Black wrote that an advisory committee at UMD has already been formed to begin the search for the Bulldogs’ next athletic director. That committee will make recommendations to University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, Black and to the interim chancellor, when that person is named.

Stromme will be part of the advisory committee, which will be chaired by faculty athletic representative and professor of marketing Steve Castleberry.

Other members include:

  • Joshua Brown, student-athlete, men's basketball.
  • Maura Crowell, head women's hockey coach.
  • Kristina D'Allaird, assistant to the AD and office manager.
  • Lisa Erwin, vice chancellor for student life and dean of students.
  • Krista Twu, professor and English, Linguistics & Writing Studies Department head.
  • Bill Watson, men's hockey alumnus.

Black wrote that UMD hopes to complete the search for the next AD within two months.
“I am thankful to President Gabel for her support and for taking an active role in this important leadership position as I transition out of my role,” Black wrote . “Members of the chancellor's office will staff and support the search in collaboration with President Gabel's office. My sincere thanks to the committee members and support staff for their time with this important search.”

Gabel announced via a letter in late May that a national search for Black’s replacement failed to produce a successor for Black. Gabel wrote then she expected to have an interim chancellor named by the end of June.

Staff are accepting nominations for the school's interim head through June 3.

This story was updated at 12:07 p.m. with Josh Berlo's final day at UMD and the members of the AD search advisory committee. It was originally posted at 11:27 a.m. on June 13, 2022.

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