Author Topic: First Round Process Proposed Amendment  (Read 6473 times)


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First Round Process Proposed Amendment
« on: November 19, 2014, 09:39:45 AM »
Proposal to Amend Standing Rules of the National Debate Tournament

Submitted By
Ed Lee, Emory University. AFA East Rep
Glen Frappier, Gonzaga University. District 2 Rep

Summary of Amendment

The following changes to the standing rules would eliminate first round at-large bids (FRALB) and create an award system honoring the Top Twenty participants attending the National Debate Tournament.  Qualification for the NDT would occur in a two-stage process. The first stage would allocate bids via the existing district process, expanding the number of district bids from the current 46 to 62. The second stage would permit teams not qualifying through the district process to submit applications for 16 “At-Large Bids” (ALB), to be selected by the NDT Committee. The NDT Committee would then be tasked with seeding the field of participants. These seeds would be used to both pair the two preset debates and to select a slate of the Top Twenty participants. Existing awards for the top finishers in the FRALB process will be given to the appropriate teams based on the NDT Committee’s seeding process.

Rationale for Amendment

The NDT qualification process does not reflect contemporary travel and competitive realities. Not only are programs and individual teams attending far fewer tournaments, but the ongoing shift from consolidated “mega-national” tournaments towards more regionalized travel is accelerating the long-term trend of a FRALB applicant pool that has fewer and fewer debates against each other. Many long-time rankers are finding it increasingly difficult to make comparisons between teams with relatively few head-to-heads and disparate tournament schedules. Our proposal is designed to de-emphasize what risks becoming an ever more arbitrary FRALB process while incentivizing the expansion of regional debate by increasing the importance of districts and the district qualification process.

Our proposal can be used to foster more and better regional debate. The proposal creates a strong incentive for national-caliber teams and programs to engage regionally-focused teams and judges. The proposal also minimizes the fear of a “bad loss” that discourages many bid-seeking teams from attending smaller regional competitions. The benefits of having a larger district tournament (and thus acquiring more bids) will encourage established schools to assist new and/or struggling programs.  Asking all teams to qualify through the district tournament will increase the level of competition and the depth of the judging pool at district tournaments. Districts-first qualification increases the value, to both competitors and administrators/funding audiences, of winning a district tournament, or even qualifying to the NDT through districts. Although a national circuit will still exist, and some programs will insist on chasing a “Top 5 (or Top 20) participants spot,” we believe that decreasing the payoff of a majors-only schedule will make it easier for directors to shift resources towards more economically efficient travel options, affording more debate opportunities for more students.

Our proposal also decreases the negative effects of a potentially haphazard and politicized FRALB ranking process. One ranker has already proactively suggested a solution to the problem of “mid-major regionalization” by encouraging NDT Committee members to use their ballot to encourage teams to have a more geographically diverse travel schedule. While we appreciate the attempt to resolve what we agree is serious threat to the FRALB process, we believe it will only make the problem worst by encouraging other committee member to use the bid process to incentivize different and potentially mutually exclusive travel, content and programmatic resource decisions.  Another ranker could decide to incorporate public debate participation into their rankings. Others might choose to reward teams who decide to attend regional (non-major) tournaments that offer novice debate.  The point is that we are facing a situation where 13 different rankers can and will employ 13 arbitrary criteria for their rankings.

There are a series of external and internal forces that make the FRALB process an increasingly poor way to determine qualification for National Debate Tournament.   Academic pressures and budgetary demands for more regional tournaments cannot be resolved by mandating tournament preferences.  Preservation of opportunities for students to use debate to explore their diverse academic interests is a prerequisite to thriving programs. The NDT Committee can facilitate these changes by surrendering more control over qualification to the districts.

Finally, our proposal would expand the number of students honored for their performance during the invitational season.  Instead of 16 FRALB teams receiving an automatic bid to the NDT, the NDT Committee will participate in seeding the tournament and honor the top 20 qualifiers at the awards ceremony.  The NDT Director, Dr. John Fritch, has asked the committee to assist with seeding the tournament field.  Our proposal would make this an official duty of the NDT Committee. 

A pre-tournament Top 20 will expand the number of teams and programs recognized for their season-long success. Programs will likely still seek these awards. Unlike the existing first round process, however, such awards will not provide a free pass around the district process. Programs also need not fear that their qualification to the NDT will be threatened by the vagaries of the ranking criteria deployed by the NDT Committee members. Committee members will also no longer be required to make high-stakes ranking decisions using an increasingly challenging and skewed data set. The Rex Copeland Award Ceremony will remain an important component of the NDT experience as will the honor of receiving a top 5 ranking.  The seeding process instead of the FRALB process will determine the winners.   

The Amendment

Qualification for the National Debate Tournament.
There are two ways a team can qualify for the NDT: The district qualification process or the at large process that immediately follows conclusion of the districts process.
A. District Qualification.
1. The 62 district bids will be allocated to districts according to a proportional system:
a. Each district will receive the same percentage of the total pool of bids (number of slots available divided by the number of eligible teams), but the actual number of bids each district receives will depend on the number of eligible teams.
b. Eligible teams: To submit for the bid allocation process, a team must have paid their NDT subscription fee and have either (1) a minimum of 18 intercollegiate preliminary rounds on the fall CEDA topic or its NDT topic parallel either both as individuals or as a team of varsity or open debate in at least three tournaments, each consisting of a minimum of 6 preliminary rounds with at least 6 teams from at least four different schools in varsity or open division, or (2) one member of the team with a minimum of 32 intercollegiate preliminary rounds on the fall CEDA topic or its NDT topic parallel in at least four tournaments, each consisting of a minimum of six preliminary rounds, with at least six teams from at least four different schools in varsity or open division (i.e., if one member of the team has at least 32 rounds satisfying the above requirements, no minimum number of rounds is required of the partner in order for the team to be eligible for the bid allocation process).
 (1) All teams who ultimately attend the NDT must have competed in their district process and the district will have discretion on how many teams a single institution can field at the tournament.
 (2) The number of eligible teams from each school shall be no greater than the number of teams that school can qualify through the district process which will be capped at 3. [match wording of existing rules]
 (3) The names of all submitting teams from each district will immediately be forwarded by the district chair to the chair of the bid allocation committee by the deadline set by the Director.
c. The number of bids each district receives will be determined by dividing the number of district bids by the overall number of eligible teams and then applying that percentage to the number of eligible teams in each district. When the number assigned to a district is more than a whole number (e.g., 6.5), the district would only be assured of the whole number (e.g., 6 bids).
d. If the total number of whole numbers allotted is less than 62, the allocation committee will assign additional bids to those districts with the highest fraction until the 62 team limit is reached.
e. If there is a tie among two districts that would exceed the 62 bid limit, an extra bid will be allocated from the second round pool; if the tie is between more than two districts, the tie will be broken by total subscription rates of those districts.
2. Districts will have the option of holding a tournament, of ranking teams, or of selecting an alternative procedure to fill the district bids. Districts must make a binding decision prior to the bid allocation submission date as to the method of qualifying teams.
3. By 12:00 noon ET on the Saturday of their district qualifying weekend, each District Chair shall report to the Bid Allocation Chair the actual number of debate teams competing for bids to the NDT. The Bid Allocation Chair shall calculate a final allocation of the 62 District Bids upon receipt of the actual number of competing teams from all districts. The Bid Allocation Chair shall report the final allocation of the bids to each District Chair by 5:00 p.m. ET on the Saturday of the second qualifying weekend. In the event that all districts conduct their qualifying process on the first qualifying weekend, notification of the final allocation shall take place by 5:00 p.m. ET on the Saturday of that weekend.

B. At-Large Qualification.
1. The following regulations govern submission of at-large applications:
a. Any teams not selected for participation in the NDT through district process may submit for an At-Large bid.
b. The Director shall provide each subscribing school appropriate instructions and model applications by January 15 of each year.
c. Those subscribing schools wishing to nominate their teams for At-Large consideration must submit copies of their completed electronic Official NDT At-Large Application (without cover letters or other supplementary materials) no later than a March date following the conclusion of district processes. The specific dates will be established each year by the National Committee. Applications must be received by this date and sent to the Chair of the National Committee in accordance with instructions. Schools submitting at-large applications must have paid their NDT subscription fee prior to submitting their application for the bid to be considered. Teams submitting for at large bids must have competed in their district tournaments.
d. For reporting tournaments where two judges are used in preliminary rounds, the number of ballots won shall be divided by two and represented as a win-loss total.
e. All teams wishing to be considered for an at-large bid must pay $50.00 to the treasurer of the NDT board of trustees. Payment must be received by the appropriate deadline for the application.
f. Teams submitting At-Large applications may include a paragraph of explanation concerning extenuating circumstances.

2. The following regulations govern awarding of At-Large bids:
a. Selection of At-Large participants shall be determined by the voting membership of the National Committee with the exception of the NDT Tournament Director. National Committee members shall rank for At-Large selection a number of teams (excluding their own teams containing a student they have previously coached) All other teams shall be given the next rank. On an agreed date all voting members of the Committee will the NDT Tournament Director and inform him or her of their rankings.
b. The NDT Tournament Director will sum each team's total after dropping high and low ranks (using the average of all other ranks for a member's own team) and award the bids to the lowest ranked teams. If a tie results among the top positions (i.e., the last bid in the given At-Large round), the NDT Tournament Director shall drop an additional high and low ranks for the teams involved down to eight total ranks. If a tie still exists the NDT Tournament Director shall re-rank the teams involved in the tie based on the original ranked relationships of each committee member (except the member(s) with teams involved). If a tie still exists, then each member (except with teams involved) shall be telephoned and given the opportunity to re-rank the tied teams, after re-evaluating the respective credentials.
c. The top 16 teams based on the rankings will be awarded at large bids to the National Debate Tournament. The next two lower teams that do not qualify for At-Large bids will be designated as first and second alternate.
d. Should there be an odd number of teams selected through the three qualification processes, the first alternate (or the second, should the first be unable to attend), will be allowed to participate at the National Debate Tournament. Should there be no additional alternate teams, the tournament director will make arrangements to assure an even number of teams.
e. The following regulations govern announcement of At-Large bids:
1. All schools submitting At-Large applications shall be notified immediately after completion of the selection process concerning their own acceptance or rejection and the names of all schools and their teams who were selected.
2.  Information concerning the voting of the Committee on At-Large bids shall be disseminated by the Director to all involved parties following the National Tournament.
3.  Subscriber appeals for exceptions to any of the At-Large regulations shall follow the procedures of Standing Rule VII.C.1.

Jake Weiner

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Re: First Round Process Proposed Amendment
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 09:59:38 AM »
Wow, what a novel idea.

No one ever suggested that before.

Like, ever.

Never, ever.



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Re: First Round Process Proposed Amendment
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 01:30:19 PM »

Can you fill us in on when and where this has been proposed before, and what the result was? I don't recall an NDT standing rules amendment during my time in debate, but I could've just missed it. /non-sarcasm

Jake Weiner

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Re: First Round Process Proposed Amendment
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 01:19:56 PM »

Can you fill us in on when and where this has been proposed before, and what the result was? I don't recall an NDT standing rules amendment during my time in debate, but I could've just missed it. /non-sarcasm

I honestly don't know if a rule was ever proposed, but the discussion has been brought up for more than a decade.  I think the last time a major push was made was during the redistricting discussion.


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Re: First Round Process Proposed Amendment
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2015, 01:24:36 PM »
Normally I don't weigh in on rule issues. I believe that these issues are best decided by the debaters and coaches that are most directly effected.

In this case, I do need to raise two issues that do not seem to be addressed by the current discussion of the amendment:
1) The proposed amendment returns the fee to apply for bids to $50
2) The proposed amendment may significantly impact the revenue received through the bid application process.
This revenue is used to fund both the NDT tournament's use of Tabroom and NDT costs associated with the tournament/administration. The proposed amendment does not seem to offer an alternative funding mechanism for these two expenses.


Danielle Leek
NDT Treasurer