Campus News

UK Debate Earns Automatic Bid to 2021 National Debate Tournament

The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team
The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2021) — The National Debate Tournament Committee has ranked the University of Kentucky team of David Griffith (freshman) and Jordan Di (freshman) as one of the top 16 teams in the nation. This ranking means the duo will receive a “first round bid” or automatic invitation to the 2021 National Debate Tournament (NDT).

The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team, housed in the College of Communication and Information at UK, will join a list of historically strong programs including debate powerhouses such as Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Emory University, Wake Forest University, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley at the upcoming NDT.

2021 marks the seventh consecutive year that UK Debate has received at least one first round bid. Since the first-round bid process began in 1973, only seven all freshman teams have earned automatic bid honors. It is not, however, the first time UK has accomplished the feat, as the team of Dan Bannister and Anthony Trufanov earned this honor in 2016 and finished the season as the 13th ranked team in the country.

The team, led by Director of Debate Dave Arnett, now turns its focus to the postseason, starting with the American Debate Association Championship in early March.

“We have a very young squad and are facing many of the same challenges as everyone else this year. Our primary goals were sticking together, growing as a team and focusing on the fundamentals, and I feel really good about what we achieved in those areas. That we also have some impressive competitive accomplishments to show for it really speaks to the resilience of these students and the rest of the coaching staff,” Arnett said.

The 75th National Debate Tournament will take place virtually March 25-31, 2021.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.