Current Events

The Georgia Debate Union is led by Dr. Edward Panetta and Hays Watson. Our staff's diverse backgrounds and argumentative specialities each contribute to the team's success in unique ways.

Hays became the head debate coach for the Georgia Debate Union in the fall of 2012. Having debated at UGA from 2001 to 2005 and having coached at UGA from 2007 to 2009, he returned to Athens after pursuing a PhD in Rhetorical Studies at the University of Illinois.  He was a 4-time NDT qualifier, a two-time octofinalist at the NDT, and recipient of a top-5 first round bid to the NDT.  He has also coached numerous teams to the elimination rounds of major college debate tournaments, including the National Debate Tournament and ADA Nationals. He has also coached multiple teams to first-round at large bids to the National Debate Tournament.  He can be reached via email at 

Andrew is a Graduate Assistant Coach and M.A. Candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Georgia.  After completing a B.A. in International Affairs and a B.S.F.R. in Wildlife at UGA, he then went on to earn a M.A.T. in Science Education from UGA.  He is a long time member of the Georgia Debate Union both as a team member and assistant coach.

Becca is a Graduate Assistant Coach and Ph.D student in communication at UGA. This is Becca’s 5th year coaching college policy debate. She previously worked as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Florida (Master’s degree in art history) and Wake Forest University (Master’s degree in communication). She was recently named the 2016 District 6 critic of the year (earning a spot on CEDA Nats final panel) and the the 2016 Matt Grindy Assistant Coach of the Year.  She can be reached at

Steven Murray is entering his second decade of debate and his first year coaching at UGA.  His research interests include contemporary critical theory, race scholarship, and comic approaches to academic affairs.  As a coach he encourages debates to diversify their argumentative and academic interests and preferences breadth of knowledge. 

Nathan is an incoming Master's student in UGA's Department of Communication Studies and is very excited to act as an assistant coach for the Georgia Debate Union. In college, Nathan debated for four years and graduated from Trinity University with a double major in Anthropology and Human Communication. He cleared at nearly every major tournament, including the National Debate Tournament, and was a participant at the 2015 Kentucky Round Robin.  Rumor has it that he loves long walks on the beach, deep conversation, gardening, and holding hands - preferably all with Slavoj Žižek. 

Logan is a Graduate Assistant Coach and Ph.D. Candidate in Speech Communication at UGA. Hailing originally from Covington, Georgia, he completed his bachelors in Political Science at Samford University and his M.A. in Communication at Wake Forest. He qualified to the NDT four times, reaching the octafinals as part of the first Samford team to do so in more than 25 years. 

Edward Panetta has been the director of the Georgia Debate Union for nearly 30 years. During that period the University of Georgia has qualified forty teams for the National Debate Tournament (NDT). In the 1996-1997 season UGA became one of five debate programs in the sixty-two year history of the NDT to place two teams into the semi-finals (finalist and semi-finalist). Our 2003 team became the seventeenth team in the history of the NDT to compile a record of 8-0 in the preliminary rounds of the tournament. Our 2007 team was the 1st seed at the NDT and the winner of the Rex Copeland award. UGA debate has also been active in international debating during Panetta's tenure as director. Members of the Georgia Debate Union have been selected to represent the United States in Japan, Great Britain and Eastern Europe. Additionally, Dr. Panetta was selected to coach the U.S. team that visited Russia in 1997. In 2007, he was named the National Debate Coach of the Year.  Dr. Panetta is a Professor in and Head of the Department of Communication Studies at UGA.