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SMU Debate Team Advances to Nationals

Novice team tops higher-ranked schools, takes second place at MAC tourney

Under the direction of Dr. Ben Voth, associate professor of the Division of Communication Studies at Meadows School of the Arts, SMU students Viral Kotecha (B.S. Computer Science, ’17) and business pre-major Matthew Nelson bested several higher-ranked teams at the winter Mid-America Conference (MAC) novice debate tournament held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, February 28 - March 2.

Kotecha and Nelson argued about the topic of U.S. presidential authority regarding war powers and won three out of four debates. The pair debated against teams from schools ranked much higher nationally in debate, including University of Houston (ranked #58), University of Central Oklahoma (#37), University of Texas (#11) and Kansas City Community College (#1). The one loss was against undefeated Kansas City, which took first place at the MAC.

The finish was especially impressive, says Voth, since it was the first debate tournament for Nelson and the second tournament ever for Kotecha. “They finished with higher speaker point rankings than the first place team,” he says. “That suggests the quality of their argumentation was superior.”

Nelson and Kotecha are now gearing up for the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., March 15-17, where they will work to defend the SMU Debate Team’s 2013 first-place national title.

The SMU Debate Team is coached by Lauren Sabino, Tim Glass and Jordan Wondrack (B.A. International Studies, ’12). The program is directed by Ben Voth. Support for the program comes from the Meadows School Division of Communication Studies and SMU Student Affairs.

For more information, contact Director of Debate Ben Voth at

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