The Minnesota Debate Team had a historically successful 2014-15 season. The squad’s members represented the University at a number of regional and national-level competitions throughout the nation while qualifying two teams to the National Debate Tournament (NDT), hosted by the University of Iowa. There, two Gopher debate teams competed against approximately 80 of the nation’s top intercollegiate debate teams for the national title in debate’s weekend-long version of “March Madness.” The Minnesota team of Cody Crunkilton (Senior, Political Science / Spanish) and Miranda Ehrlich (Senior, Communication Studies / Political Science) finished in the Final Four, along with teams from Harvard, Michigan, and Northwestern, before bowing out to the eventual tournament champions from NU in third place. This represents Minnesota’s best-ever finish at the nation’s elite debate competition.

The team of Crunkilton and Ehrlich also won the American Debate Association’s (ADA) National Tournament, hosted by the University of Georgia. They defeated an excellent team from the University of Kentucky (a long-time debate powerhouse) in the final round after finishing the preliminary debates as the tournament’s top seed with an undefeated record.


Some other competitive highlights from the past season include:

The team of Crunkilton and Ehrlich earned the University’s second-ever First Round at-Large Bid to the NDT. This honor recognizes the top sixteen teams in the national for their performance during the invitational tournament season.

The team of Brittany Williams (Senior, English) and Kendall Witaszek (Frosh, CLA Undeclared) qualified for the NDT through the district qualification process.

Crunkilton & Ehrlich consistently placed in the top-10 in the national debate coach’s poll, and entered the NDT ranked sixth in the nation.

The squad has advanced teams to the elimination rounds of every major college invitational tournament, one of only a handful off college programs to do so. 

The program’s strong performance this past season builds upon the previous efforts and accomplishments of the debaters and coaches, present and past alike. Minnesota has qualified to the NDT in each of the past seven years, and has qualified two teams in four of those years. The program has made regular elimination round appearances at the Cross Examination Debate Association’s (CEDA) national tournament. The program has also finished either first, second, or third in the regional rankings (North Central Region / District 4) of both CEDA and the NDT for each of the past 8 seasons. 

Finally, the program engages in significant community outreach efforts. Team members work as coaches at metro middle and high school debate programs. The program hosts a number of tournaments on campus each year, including a large invitational tournament, the Minnesota State High School League’s state debate championship tournament, the Minnesota Urban Debate League’s middle school championship, and several smaller invitational tournaments each fall. In 2017, the team will host the National Debate Tournament, the nation’s oldest intercollegiate debate championship. The team also sponsors on-campus public debates on issues of concern to the campus community, our city, the nation, and the world.

By the Numbers

NDT First Rounds: 2013, 2015

NDT Qualification: 2009, 2010, 2011 (x2), 2012 (x2), 2013 (x2), 2014, 2015 (x2)

NDT Elim Round Appearances: 2013 (x2), 2014, 2015

CEDA Elim Round Appearances: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

ADA Elim Round Appearances: 2014 (3rd), 2015 (1st)

NJDDT (@JCCC) Elim Round Appearances: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Novice Nationals (@ MSU) Appearances: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

NDT Points Rankings (IA, MN, NE, SD, ND, WI): We have finished first in the in the District (IV) during 7 of the past 8 years

CEDA Points Rankings (NDT + Illinois): We have finished either first, second, or third in the regiona. (North Central) in each of the past 8 years.