Published on October 27, 2020 by Sean Flynt  
Samford competed with Top 10 teams
Samford competed with Top 10 teams

Samford University’s Debate Team competed with the top 10 teams in the nation at the 2020 Harvard Round Robin Tournament in mid-October. The university was ranked the 10th best team algorithmically but was listed as the first alternate. Samford’s debaters did not expect to compete unless another team withdrew. When a team did so shortly before the start of the tournament, Samford stepped up and made the best of the unique opportunity.

“We actually had to wake up our debaters over the phone and tell them they were debating in an hour,” said assistant coach Lee Quinn. “I told them we likely weren't going to win a single round because we had no prep, but just being invited and being accepted put Samford in a spotlight. It is a massive accomplishment that put Samford on stage with the best colleges in the nation.”

Samford had more preparation and better success in a Wayne State University tournament the next week. The team of Sawyer Emerson and Maddox Gates made it to the Final Four in varsity competition, while Alyssa Gregory and Joey Tarnowski made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Emmerson and Gates won the 6th and 8th speaker places, respectively, in overall varsity. Samford debater Max Willinger was honored as 8th speaker overall in Junior-Varsity.

Samford's director of debate, communication studies professor Ryan Galloway, announced the following week that the team is now ranked 11th in the nation. "We do this with a handful of debaters and a tiny coaching staff compared to the powerhouses ahead of us," he said.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.
Samford University 2020 Annual Report