Baylor Debate Finishes in Elite Eight at National Debate Tournament

  • News Photo 5090
    The Baylor Debate Team after the Elite Eight: (L to R, front row) - Alex McVey (grad assistant coach), Kendall Kaut, John Cook, Ashley Morgan. (L to R, back row) - Sam Hogan, Dr. Matt Gerber, Katelin Morey, Rachel Ford (grad assistant coach), Eli Bacon, Kyle Vint (grad assistant coach), Dr. Scott Varda, and Grant Nelson.
  • News Photo 5091
    The Baylor debate coaches wait on the Quarterfinals decision. (L to R): Dr. Scott Varda, associate director of debate; Matt Gerber, director of debate; and Kyle Vint, graduate assistant coach.
April 1, 2011

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Baylor's nationally-ranked debate team - The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum - capped off a tremendous season, finishing in the Elite Eight of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), held March 25-28 in Dallas. This is Baylor's strongest finish at the national championships since 1996, when Baylor made it to the Final Four.

Baylor's team of juniors John Cook and Ashley Morgan posted a 5-3 record in the preliminary rounds, and then upset seventh-ranked Towson State in the Double-Octafinals to advance to the Sweet 16. In the round of 16, Baylor posted a resounding 4-1 victory over Samford University to advance to the Elite 8, where they were finally defeated by eventual national champion Northwestern University.

Baylor will return its entire debate team returning next season, with a goal of winning Baylor's fourth national debate championship. Baylor won national debate championships in 1975, 1987 and 1989, and has appeared in the Final Four an additional six times since 1947.

Of the seven intercollegiate debate programs in Texas, Baylor was the last team from the state of Texas left in the tournament. The University of Texas at Dallas lost in the Sweet 16, while Baylor made it to the Elite 8. The University of Texas at Austin, which won the District 3 Championship three weeks ago, posted a 4-4 record, missing the cut for the elimination debates.

Baylor's team of Cook and Morgan competed in a total of 11 debates, each about three hours in length, over the three-day span of debates.

Baylor's team of junior Nate Ford and sophomore Kendall Kaut also competed at the 2011 NDT, where they posted a 3-5 record.

Baylor's only losses at the tournament were to the elite teams in the country. Baylor lost a preliminary round to Emory, the pre-tournament overall No. 1 seed. Baylor also fell to Harvard, the pre-tournament overall No. 2 seed. Baylor posted wins over No. 7-ranked Towson State in a heated debate over the racial politics of U.S. immigration law, and over 10th-ranked Vanderbilt in the preliminary rounds.

Baylor's debate coaches often get little or no sleep at tournaments, competing against the best minds in the country to make sure their team's arguments are up to date, and their evidence the most recent.

"I can personally say that Scott Harris, the director at debate powerhouse Kansas, is not human. He does not require sleep. We have to compete against people like this who dedicate their lives to coaching college debate. We do our best to keep up, within reason," said Dr. Matthew Gerber, who worked under Harris, while completing his Ph.D. at Kansas.

An associate professor of communication studies, Gerber has coached at Baylor since 2003, and directed the debate program since 2006. Dr. Scott Varda, assistant professor of communication studies, was hired in 2007 as associate director.

Four graduate assistant coaches also work with the Baylor debate program: Rachel Ford, Amanda Luppes, Alex McVey and Kyle Vint.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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