UMD athletic director signs contract extension

UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo. Howie / HowieHanson.com

The University of Minnesota Duluth and Athletic Director Josh Berlo have agreed to a two-year contract extension, now running through May 1, 2023 and extending the five-year contract he signed in November 2015.

“Josh is a tireless advocate for student athletes. I am confident in the direction and leadership Josh has set for UMD Athletics as it achieves new heights in community engagement, academic experiences, and competitive success,” said UMD Chancellor Lendley (Lynn) Black. “He is a strong advocate for UMD and is leading the much-needed renovations of the physical spaces in which our athletes compete.”

This includes plans to renovate Romano Gymnasium, which is the hub for Bulldogs women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, academic and recreation space, as well as a community programming.

“I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Chancellor Black and the senior leadership of UMD for the opportunity to continue to lead Bulldog Athletics,” said Berlo. “In addition, I would like to thank Bulldog Country for their ardent dedication and commitment to our outstanding athletic programs. Their unconditional support has enabled our remarkable student athletes, coaches, and staff to achieve unparalleled success in our Bulldog mission, while concurrently building the infrastructure to sustain and further these accomplishments. I am honored to serve this University and its great traditions as we strive together to be the best Division I and II institution in the NCAA. Personally, my wife Megan and I could not be happier to continue to be a part of the UMD and Duluth communities.”

Berlo came to UMD in 2013 from the University of Notre Dame after a more than 13-year tenure, serving as senior assistant athletics director for guest relations and event marketing prior to his arrival in Duluth.

As UMD’s director of intercollegiate athletics, Berlo supervises UMD’s coaches, staff, and administrative personnel. He also develops and implements the strategic plan, manages an annual departmental budget of approximately $10 million, directs the use of UMD athletic facilities, and leads fundraising and marketing efforts.

Classroom

Dr. Stephen B. Castleberry is the NCAA faculty athletic representative at UMD, a position each NCAA institution designates to a faculty member in an effort to ensure academic integrity of its athletic program. Castleberry said Berlo’s commitment to his athletes’ education is evident in their record setting grade point averages: 3.14 in 2013-14, 3.18 in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and 3.21 in 2016-17.
“Josh truly lives and leads with the ‘three C’s’ of UMD Athletics at the forefront: classroom, community and competition,” said Castleberry. “I am excited about this contract extension.”

Under Berlo’s leadership, UMD Athletics has earned 408 All-Conference Academic Honors (NSIC, WCHA and NCHC) and 27 NSIC Myles Brand Academic Award Winners.
Community

Part of Berlo’s directive to his department is to create a strong community bond. The hours that student athletes, staff, and coaches are engaging with the community has risen from approximately 2,000 in 2013-14 to more than 3,000 in 2016-17.

Last year, nearly 40 organizations were beneficiaries of the Bulldogs’ volunteering efforts, including Duluth’s Laura MacArthur and Homecroft Elementary Schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland, Make-A-Wish, Salvation Army, Udac, Mentor Duluth, the Lion’s Cub, and the American Red Cross.

The community returns that engagement in many ways, including event attendance. Bulldog Athletics is annually ranked in NCAA Division I top three for women’s hockey attendance, top six for men’s hockey, and top three for Division II women’s volleyball attendance.

Berlo leads by example through his own service on the American Cancer Society’s Minnesota State Leadership Board and the North Country Trail Association National Board. Berlo is also a volunteer with the Superior Hiking Trail.

Competition

Competitive excellence has been the backbone of UMD’s athletic program since its inception in 1931. This has spread to nearly all of UMD’s teams under Berlo’s leadership.

During Berlo’s tenure, 13 of UMD’s 16 varsity programs have competed in NCAA championship events, including the return of women’s hockey to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 after a six-year absence and the 2017 Men’s Hockey Frozen Four appearance. The 2016-17 consensus National Women’s Hockey Head Coach of the Year, Maura Crowell, says she’s pleased that Berlo will continue to lead the athletic department through 2023.

“There are many positives happening on campus as a result of Josh’s leadership,” said Crowell. “He’s been a great supporter of the women’s hockey program, and I love the direction that our entire department is moving in.”

Broad-based competition highlights during Berlo’s tenure:

Men’s hockey has qualified for three consecutive NCAA tournaments, advanced to three regional finals, and the 2017 National Championship game.

In 2016, baseball and softball qualified for the NCAA Tournament in the same season – a departmental first.

In November of 2017, the men’s and women’s cross country teams advanced to the national meet in the same season, both finishing in the top 25 — another departmental first. This was the fifth consecutive appearance for the women’s team.

Women’s track has had two national champions (Emi Trost, outdoor 1,500-meter and Sam Rivard, indoor mile).

Football has qualified for three NCAA tournaments and women’s volleyball has qualified for four NCAA tournaments, including two Sweet 16 appearances.

UMD Athletics has produced 59 All-Americans across 16 programs.

Nine total conference (NSIC and NCHC) regular season and tournament championships have been achieved.

Top five national rankings were obtained by women’s volleyball, football, women’s cross country, men’s hockey, and women’s hockey – including extended periods at number one by women’s volleyball and men’s hockey.

Athletic Department Milestones

Bulldog Athletics has a rich history of continuous improvement, which continues to be a focus under Berlo’s leadership. Examples include:

. National Recognitions — Two national “Players of the Year” awards,” Kate Lange and Alex Wojciehowski, were awarded.

. Two national “Coaches of the Year” awards, Curt Wiese and Maura Crowell, were awarded.

Bulldog Athletic Marketing has become an annual NACMA “Best of” award winner, garnering 11 Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The department was awarded the 2016 NCAA Women and Ethnic Minorities Internship Grant.

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport awarded UMD an ‘A’ rating for its strong presence of women leading Bulldog women’s athletic teams, with seven of nine women’s programs being led by a female head coach.

Events

UMD served as a host site for multiple NCAA championship competitions in women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and football.

Men’s hockey was awarded and hosted the 2017 Icebreaker Tournament, bringing additional home games and an estimated $2 million in additional economic activity to the Twin Ports.

UMD secured the bid to host the 2019 NSIC Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track Championship.
The department pioneered the maurice’s “50 for 50”: A year-long celebration to commemorate 50 years of Bulldog Women’s Athletics.

Enhancements

The Athletic Department doubled its endowment and raised more than $6 million in less than five years for Bulldog Athletics scholarships, facilities, and other initiatives benefiting all 400 student athletes.

Donor funded renovations and scholarship funding initiatives have included: the Jamar Academic Center for Student-Athletes, the Seyfer Bulldog Team Room and Video Suite, the H.B. Hanna Home Coaches Booth, the Erickson Athletics Reception, and Farrell Athletics Business Center. In addition, new scoreboards were installed at Junction Field and Bulldog Park benefiting the Bulldogs softball and baseball programs.

UMD Athletics raised $500,000 in donations to install video boards at Malosky Stadium and Romano Gymnasium – benefiting football, women’s soccer, softball, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball.

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