The Madison Cup is currently on hiatus until further notice. If and when it returns, we will update you here. 

Tournament Procedures:

  • Number of rounds: This year we will offer three preliminary rounds of debate and one final round.
  • Switch side debate: Each team will debate at least once on the affirmative and once on the negative. 
  • Side & position: Sides (affirmative or negative), and positions (first affirmative team, first negative team, second affirmative team, etc) for the preliminary debates will be determined by random drawing.
  • Judging: Judges will rank teams 1-6 in each preliminary debate, and assign each team quality points based on a one hundred point scale (1-100).
  • Advancing to the final round: The six teams (maximum of one from each school) with the lowest total ranks will advance to the final round.  Quality points will be used to break ties.
  • Sides and Speaking Positions in the final round: Sides and speaking positions in the final round will be based on seeding after the preliminary rounds.  For example, the first seeded team will choose their “side and position,” then the second seed will choose “side and position,” and so on.

Public Participation:  While the jury deliberates, the floor will be opened for audience comments and speeches.  An award for the best floor speech will be presented.  Local newspapers, politicians, and the general public are invited.

Awards:  The first place team will leave with the Madison Cup—a very nice traveling trophy. Once again this year there is a $30,000 purse of team prize money.  All participants in the final round will be recognized with awards.

Prize money will be awarded as follows:

1st place: $5000.00 donation to your debate program

2nd place: $3000.00 donation to your debate program

3rd place: $2000.00 donation to your debate program

4th—6th place: $1000.00 donation to your debate program

7th-10th place: $500.00 donation to your debate program

Any student who participates in the final round will receive a prize to be distributed in the form of a scholarship. The top team will receive $2,000 per student and the remaining students in the final round will receive $1,000.

Entry: There are no entry fees. We can accommodate a field of 36 teams.  Entry is on a first come, first serve basis.  The first 18 teams to enter are guaranteed a spot in the field, after that we will accept teams if we can generate a field divisible by 4 or 6.  Deadline for entry is February 28th Early registration is necessary so we can determine how many debates there will be in each round.  Send school info, team info (first and last names of debaters), and requests for additional teams to:  Dr. Mike Davis,

Travel Stipend: This year we are pleased to offer a travel stipend of $2,000 to three teams that are able to demonstrate that they would add significantly to the quality and diversity of teams participating in this year’s competition. In addition to these stipends we are also able to offer an additional $4,000 in smaller stipends to schools that are on the East Coast or schools that only require partial assistance. Please email completed letters of application to

Your application for a travel stipend should be submitted by February 28th. We will use the following criteria when deciding which teams are awarded the stipend:

Quality of Team: What is the team’s competitive success? Do they have prior public debate experience?

Diversity: How does the team add to the diversity of the event? Things such as regional, institution, debate format will all be considered.

Budget: What level of funding does your administration provide? How many students does that budget currently serve? Would the team be able to attend the competition otherwise?

Previous Competitor: Is your school new to the competition? Will participation in this event/receiving the stipend assist in future development of your debate program?

Lodging: We have reserved a block of hotel rooms at The Hotel Madison and shenandoah Valley COnference center, 710 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. The phone number for The Hotel Madison is (540) 564-0200. The rate is 1-4 people per room for $94 + tax. When calling please mention that you are attending the Madison Cup debates at JMU. To guarantee the rate the rooms must be reserved by March 13th.

Travel:  James Madison University is located in Harrisonburg, VA, which is two hours southwest of Washington, D.C. on I-81.  If you plan to fly consider Dulles and Washington National/Reagan Airports in Washington DC (2 hours away), Richmond airport (2 hours away), Charlottesville airport (one hour away) and the Shenandoah Regional Airport (15 minutes away).  We will arrange transport from Shenandoah and Charlottesville, we’ll do our best to work with you from the others.


Thursday, April 18th, 2019:  James Madison Commemorative Debate and Citizens Forum

8:00 AM-9:00 AM: Registration and Announcements

9:30 AM: Preliminary debate round 1 (Madison Union)

11:00 AM: Preliminary debate round 2 (Madison Union)

1:00 PM: Lunch

2:00 PM: Preliminary debate round 3 (Madison Union)

6:00 PM: Final round (Memorial Auditorium)

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