’Jeopardy!’: Is Ken Jennings Involved With First-Ever Professor’s Tournament?

by Chris Haney

Jeopardy!‘s newest competition will bring college professors together for the first time, but will legendary competitor turned host Ken Jennings be involved?

In what will be the first-ever Professor’s Tournament, 15 professors will face off for a $100,000 grand prize. In addition, they’ll earn a spot in the 2022 Tournament Of Champions

Most recently, Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings took over hosting duties for Mayim Bialik. However, Bialik will return to host the professor showdown, which will air weeknights from Dec. 6 to 17. Therefore there are no plans for Jennings to be involved with the special competition. During a recent interview with PEOPLE, Bialik spoke about filming the new competition.

“It was an unbelievable thrill to see so many brilliant professors from all kinds of schools and backgrounds come together on the Jeopardy! stage,” Bialik said.

“There was a sense of kinship and academic camaraderie among the group, along with a healthy dose of competitiveness. That energy made this inaugural Professors Tournament incredibly special,” she added.

The show will welcome its first three professors on the December 6th episode. English professor at Penn State University Hester Blum, associate clinical professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School Gautam Hans, and chemistry professor at Roanoke College Gary Hollis will be the first competitors on the showdown.

‘Jeopardy!’ Legend Ken Jennings Pays Tribute to Alex Trebek

The announcement of the new Jeopardy! competition comes just days after the first anniversary of longtime host Alex Trebek’s death. The iconic game show host passed away last Nov. 8 at 80 years old following his battle with pancreatic cancer.

After a lengthy search for the next host, showrunners chose executive producer Mike Richards as Trebek’s replacement. However, his tenure on the show didn’t last long. Following his unceremonious exit, the show hired actress Mayim Bialik as its full-time host. Bialik has been the sole host of the game show since September 20. But earlier this week on November 8, Ken Jennings took over the Jeopardy! podium.

Additionally, Ken Jennings was the first guest host to take over the show back in January. Trebek’s wife Jean gifted the former contestant with a pair of Alex’s cuff links before his first appearance hosting.

“I miss Alex a lot,” Ken said in a Jeopardy! clip released on the one-year anniversary of Trebek’s death. “When I’m here, I feel like he’s probably in the building somewhere. It’s hard not to talk about him in the present tense.”

That same day, the show’s competitors, fans, and Trebek’s family honored his legacy with memorial posts.

“My beloved husband passed away one year ago… one of his final messages was that of the importance of having compassion for each other,” Jean captioned her Instagram post. “In honor of Alex’s beautiful and powerful life, please take a moment to watch this short video.”