Jacob Thompson debated at Wayne State University (B.A., 1999), where he learned the value of a great coaching staff, a personal dedication to hard work, and the transformative power of practice. While debating for Wayne State, Thompson competed in the elimination rounds of the NDT and several major national tournaments. After debating at Wayne State, he worked for five years as an assistant debate coach at the University of Kansas, where he also completed his M.A. and Ph.D. (2006). Working at Kansas reinforced his lessons from Wayne State, but also gave him unique insight into argument and coaching strategy. Thompson then worked for three years as the director of forensics at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). In 2005, he coached the UNI debate team to be ranked as the "Most Improved University Debate Team in America".
Thompson took the position as the director of debate at UNLV in 2007, creating the UNLV Debate Team from the ground up. In his decade at UNLV, the team has had amazing successes, and has steadily improved year after year. The UNLV Debate Team is now consistently ranked among the top ten policy debate programs in the nation. The team has become a national powerhouse with the capability to win multiple national championships. In 2018 Thompson was awarded The “George Ziegelmueller Coaching Excellence Award” by the Board of Trustees of the National Debate Tournament.
In addition, Thompson is committed to expanding access to policy debate for students throughout the Clark County School District. In 2011, he created the Las Vegas Debate League (LVDL) and LVDL Advisory Board. In its short existence, the LVDL has successfully attracted thousands of dollars in external support, has resuscitated policy debate in the CCSD, and continues to add CCSD middle and high schools to the ranks of those that field policy debate teams. Thompson also directs the program's summer debate camp for middle and high school students. Generally speaking, his scholarly interests lie in the areas of argumentation, political campaign debates, and U.S. foreign policy rhetoric. Overall, with the help of the rest of our amazing coaching staff, Thompson hopes that UNLV will consistently be one of the most competitive debate programs in America.