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UK Debate Staff


David Arnett

Director of Debate

Dave is the Director of Debate at the University of Kentucky. He coached the 2019 national champions and the runners-up in both 2004 and 2005. Dave has coached 14 teams to a top-five national ranking. He was named the 2009 Ross Smith National Coach of the Year and voted runner-up for Coach of the 2000s. He was also voted the 2015 American Debate Association Coach of the Year. Dave oversees the Intercollegiate Debate Program, whose events bring over 3,000 participants to the UK campus every year. In addition, he has spearheaded UK Debate’s international outreach efforts, including projects in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

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Linda Barker

Administrative Assistant

Linda began working in the UK Debate Office on September 25, 1989, just in time for her first Kentucky Thoroughbred Round Robin and Henry Clay Debate Tournaments. J. W. Patterson was the Director of Debate at that time. She has enjoyed becoming friends with the UK debaters over the years and still stays with touch with many of them.


Brian Manuel

Director of the Tournament of Champions

Brian is the Director of the Tournament of Champions and oversees all UK Debate events. He currently serves as the Board Chairman of the National Debate Coaches Association, along with consulting for the National Speech & Debate Association. Prior to joining UK, Brian was the Director of Debate at Edgemont High School and Director of Policy Debate at Stanford University. Widely recognized for his unrivaled talent in revitalizing traditional programs, Brian was named the 2008 Michael Bacon Coach of the Year and 2016 Val A. Browning Director of the Year. He has been coaching debate for nearly 25 years.


Devane Murphy

Associate Director of Debate

In 2017, Devane and his partner were the second team in American Collegiate Debate history to win both the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and the Cross Examination National Debate Association National Championship (CEDA) in the same season. He also won the 2017 Ross K. Smith NDT Top Speaker Award.  Devane has coached Policy Debate at both the high-school and collegiate levels, including multiple qualifiers to the Tournament of Champions, CEDA National Championships, and NDT. He has coached the winners of the Mukai Classic at Weber State, JV/Novice National Championships, United States Military Academy West Point Invitational, Kathryn Klassic at California State University-Fullerton, and the NDT. He previously coached at Rutgers University-Newark and Dartmouth College.

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Adrienne Brovero

Associate Director of Debate

As a debater, Adrienne won multiple tournaments, including the University of Kentucky tournament, and was awarded the National Debate Tournament’s Copeland Award for the top-ranked team during the regular season. As a coach, Adrienne has coached four National Debate Tournament Champions and three American Debate Association National Champions. In the most recent National Debate Tournament “Best of the Decade” poll, Adrienne finished #6 in the Coach Rankings, and was named #1 Judge of the Decade. Adrienne also has an extensive background in service to the debate community, having served in multiple roles including representative to the CEDA Topic Committee and president of the American Debate Association, and she is currently the chair of the National Debate Tournament Committee. Adrienne has decades of tournament administration experience, and during the pandemic, Adrienne took on a leadership role in developing and promoting online debate competitions. Adrienne previously coached debate at the University of Mary Washington, Richmond, Northwestern, Michigan, and Wake Forest.

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Nate Graziano

Assistant Debate Coach

Nate is currently an assistant coach at both the University of Kentucky and Kent Denver School, where he has coached multiple teams to the highest levels of competition. Over the past decade, he has helped students reach late elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament, American Debate Association National Championship, Tournament of Champions, and other prestigious events. As a competitor, Nate traveled the NDT/CEDA circuit with the University of Wyoming and also received a first-round bid to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. He recently had the honor of judging the Semifinals and Finals of the 2023 National Debate Tournament, and looks forward to judging many more excellent debates in the future.


Kathy Pickett

Office Manager

Kathy comes to the team with a varied background rich in people skills. With over 30 years of experience, she is a hard-working, motivated, and enthusiastic Office Manager with a proven track record of success. She always strives to achieve the highest standard possible, at any given task and in any situation. She is beyond thrilled to join the UK Debate staff and is looking forward to many successful years for the students!


NP Polanco

Assistant Debate Coach

Bio Coming Soon!

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