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Nielson’s Vacancy Filled by Two Familiar Bulldogs

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Nielson’s Vacancy Filled by Two Familiar Bulldogs

A decade with Bob Nielson is drawing to a close with two familiar faces on campus filling the roles of head football coach and interim athletic director at UMD. Curt Wiese, former UMD offensive coordinator, has been appointed as the Bulldogs’ new head football coach while longtime UMD athletic department staff member Karen Stromme will assume the role of interim athletic director. These two positions were previously held by Nielson, who is heading to Western Illinois University as head football coach.

UMD Head Football Coach
“Many people have offered overwhelming support for Curt as head football coach,” said Chancellor Lendley C. Black. “I repeatedly heard about the strength of the UMD football program and the respect Curt has among his coaching peers. It is important to me to have continuity in Bulldog football and to position the program to go to new heights of excellence. I am confident that Curt is the right person for the job.”

Wiese, the sixth head coach in the 80-year history of Bulldog football, joined the UMD staff on Feb. 12, 2008. During his five years as commander of UMD’s offense, the Bulldogs finished near the top of the NCAA II leader board four times in scoring (third this past fall with a school-record 46.5 points per game average, fifth in 2008, sixth in 2010 and ninth three years ago), and this year possessed the nation’s seventh best rushing attack (after ranking seventh, fourth, and third, respectively, in that department during the previous three seasons).

In addition, no less than 15 of his pupils have landed All-American recognition, including a pair of Harlon Hill Award finalists — quarterback Ted Schlafke, the school’s career passing and total offense leader, and running back Isaac Odim who is UMD’s all-time top ground gainer and scorer and the holder of 17 school records.

“I am honored to take on this new role,” said Wiese.

Interim Athletic Director
Longtime UMD athletic department staff member Karen Stromme will assume the role of interim athletic director.

“Karen is certainly the most qualified person to step in and serve in the role of interim athletic director,” said Black. “She has worked closely with Bob Nielson on many aspects of UMD Athletics. Throughout her tenure as women’s head basketball coach, assistant athletic director, and as the senior woman administrator, she has worked very hard, shown her dedication, and she is someone I have the trust and confidence in to lead us through this transition.”

Stromme is in her 30th year with UMD athletics and since 2003-04 has served as its assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator. She has extensive Division II committee experience, having previously worked on the Committee on Infractions, the Membership Committee and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, among others and this past November was elected vice chair of the NCAA Division II Management Council.

Over the course of her 21 years as head coach with the Bulldog women’s basketball program (1984-2005), Stromme compiled a 440-184 overall record (for a .705 winning percentage, the best mark in school history) and posted 21 consecutive winning seasons. She also guided the Bulldogs to 12 NSIC titles, four of a possible five NSIC Tournament championships, eight NCAA II North Central Regional playoff berths and seven appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.

“Over the past 30 years, I have felt privileged and honored to be a part of UMD athletics as a coach and administrator,” said Stromme. “This is another opportunity for me to be engaged with the great Bulldog traditions. The UMD Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has always worked hard to achieve excellence. The administration, coaches, and staff will continue that while being student-athlete centered through our commitment to high achievement in the classroom and competition.”

A national search for a permanent athletic director will begin immediately with the position expected to be filled this spring.

Read the full press release announcing Curt Wiese and Karen Stromme’s new positions here.

To learn more about Bulldog Athletics, please visit


  • Kristi

    Congrats Karen! You’ll do great!