Athens, Ga. – Ed Panetta, director of the Georgia Debate Union and associate professor in the department of speech communication at the University of Georgia, is this year’s recipient of the Glen Pelham National Debate Coach of the Year Award.
“While Ed Panetta [right] is always quick to give the credit to his team members, there is no doubt that he has earned the respect of all who are affiliated with intercollegiate debate and that the Georgia Debate Union success is a reflection of his passion for debate,” said Jerold Hale, department head of speech communication. “Under Panetta’s leadership, the Georgia Debate Union has earned a reputation as one of the most respected intercollegiate debate programs in the United States.”
UGA has been fielding competitive debate teams for more than 50 years with Panetta being a part of that effort for the past 20 years. Under his leadership the Georgia Debate Union has qualified more than 35 teams for the National Debate Tournament (NDT), which is debate’s equivalent to the NCAA basketball tournament. In the 1996-97 season, UGA became one of five debate programs in the history of the NDT to place two teams in the semi-finals of the tournament (finalist and semi-finalist).
The 2003 UGA team was the 17th team in the history of the NDT to compile a record of 8-0 in the preliminary rounds of the tournament. In 2006-07 the program qualified two teams for the NDT for the 18th consecutive year. The Georgia Debate Union current record of consecutive appearances at the NDT exceeds that of any other SEC school by 16 years. 2007 was the most successful season in UGA debate history and ended with UGA students being awarded the prestigious Copeland Trophy, which is given to the top-rated team of the debate season.
The Georgia Debate Union supports interested debaters through travel to policy debate tournaments in the Southeast and across the country and 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, Panetta was selected to coach the U.S. team that visited Russia in 1997.
For more information on the Georgia Debate Union, visit www.debate.uga.edu/ and for speech communication, visit www.uga.edu/~spc/. For information from the National Debate Tournament, visit http://groups.wfu.edu/NDT/.