Baylor Debate Team Achieves Top Five National Ranking

Arts & Sciences News

September 28, 2009
The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum, Baylor University's renowned intercollegiate debating team, has achieved a No. 5 national ranking following season-opening tournaments at Gonzaga and Georgia State University.

The Baylor team of John Cook, a junior international studies major from Winfield, Kan., and Alex McVey, a senior international studies/Spanish major from Olathe, Kan., defeated teams from Harvard, Northwestern, Wake Forest, USC, Emory and the defending national champions from the University of Kansas to reach the quarterfinals at both Gonzaga and Georgia State tournaments. The Georgia State tournament is one of the nation's largest, and was attended by 126 debate teams from across the country.

The Baylor team of Chris Rooney, a senior speech communications major from Round Rock, and Amanda Luppes, a senior international studies major from Apple Valley, Minn., reached the double-octafinals at Georgia State by defeating debate teams from Harvard, Kansas and Georgia.

Two additional debate teams from Baylor posted winning records at the Georgia State tournament: the team of Nate Ford, a junior international studies major from Corsicana, and Grant Nelson, a sophomore political science major from Des Moines, Iowa, and the team of Ashley Morgan, a sophomore international studies major from Omaha, Neb., and Sam Hogan, a sophomore psychology major from Des Moines, Iowa.

"Baylor is considered a traditional powerhouse in debate," said Dr. Matt Gerber, assistant professor of communication studies and director of Baylor's debate program. "We are off to a great start, and I believe that this could be the kind of really special season we have been working toward."

The Baylor debate team will compete at the national championships in March 2010 at the University of California at Berkeley.

Established in 1851, the Baylor debate team is one of the oldest extra-curricular organizations on campus. Since the beginning of the modern era of intercollegiate debate in 1947, Baylor has won three national championships, appeared in nine Final Fours, and qualified for the national tournament a stunning 50 times.

This year, Baylor returned all members of the 10th-ranked 2008-2009 debate squad that finished ahead of such traditional debate powers as Harvard, Dartmouth, USC, Georgia and Texas. In addition, Baylor was one of only 19 of the 78 teams competing in the national tournament to be represented by multiple teams.

"We have four teams that can go out on any given weekend and win a tournament or be in the deep elimination rounds," Gerber said.

Baylor's debate program is housed in the department of communication studies and is directed by Gerber and Dr. Scott Varda, assistant professor of communication studies who serves as associate director of debate.

For more information, contact Gerber at (254) 710-6917 or
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