Home court advantage: KU hosts National Debate Tournament for the first time, makes history

While KU basketball’s quest for the National Championship grabbed our attention during March, another heated tournament with an equally illustrious KU history took place at the University of Kansas. The KU Edwards Campus welcomed the nation’s best collegiate debaters to compete over four intense days, March 24-27, at the 71st National Debate Tournament.

This is the first time KU has hosted the tournament, yet KU Debate’s successful history in national competition rivals that of the KU men’s basketball team. They have won the National Debate Tournament championship five times and have qualified for the tournament in 66 of the 71 years of its existence. The university also has had a team reach the final four at least once every decade since the tournament began in 1947, reaching its first final four in 1948 and most recently last year. KU has advanced to the final four 15 times.

KU was one of six universities with three qualifying teams at this year’s tournament. Chris Birzer, majoring in mathematics with a minor in chemistry, and Madison Cook, majoring in political science and history, made it to the Doubles Round. Quaram Robinson, pre-law and majoring in African and African-American studies, and Kyndall Delph, majoring in English, advanced to the round of 16. The team of Jacob Hegna, majoring in computer science and mathematics, and Henry Walter, majoring in economics and political science, advanced to the quarterfinals.

“It was the first time in history that KU has advanced three teams to the elimination rounds, and getting two teams to the Sweet 16 and one to the Elite Eight is a tremendous achievement,” said Scott Harris, David B. Pittaway Director of Debate, in the Lawrence Journal-World. “I am very proud of all of the hard work of the KU staff and students who helped us host the tournament while performing at such a high level in the competition. We are eager to get back to work for next season.”

Photo Credit: The KU Debate team 2016-17 taken by Earl Richardson.

Originally published in the KU Collegian, spring 2017