Archive for Tuesday, March 31, 2009

KU debaters faced fierce competition and came out national champs

Brett Bricker, from left, KU debate coach Scott Harris, and Nate Johnson surround the national championship trophy that Bricker and Johnson won Tuesday in Texas.

Brett Bricker, from left, KU debate coach Scott Harris, and Nate Johnson surround the national championship trophy that Bricker and Johnson won Tuesday in Texas.

March 31, 2009, 11:55 a.m. Updated March 31, 2009, 5:19 p.m.


Lt. governor proud of Jayhawks

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who debated four years as a student at Wichita State University, discusses his pride in the Kansas Jayhawks winning the national debate championship. Parkinson likens coach Scott Harris to Bill Self, and notes that KU's debaters "deserve a parade just as much as the basketball team did last year." Enlarge video

The road to Kansas University’s first national title in debate in 26 years wasn’t easy.

Brett Bricker, a Wichita senior, joined Nate Johnson, a Manhattan senior, in defeating the defending national championship team from Wake Forest in the final round in a decision that was announced after 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Scott Harris, KU debate coach, said Tuesday that the National Debate Tournament title still hadn’t sunk in.

KU took an entourage of about 20 people, including assistant coaches and other debaters, to Austin, Texas, for the tournament.

When the five judges for the final round announced their decision, 4-1 in favor of Kansas, “the room erupted,” Harris recalled.

“The Rock Chalk Chant went on for a couple of hours” in the hotel ballroom that served as the site for the final round, he said.

Bricker and Johnson both reported getting a voluminous number of calls and text messages from KU debate alumni and friends congratulating them on their victory.

“I couldn’t even go to sleep after it was over, I was so wired,” Johnson said. “I didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m.”

The championship was a situation analogous to last year’s Final Four in men’s basketball, where all four top seeds made the semifinals, Harris said.

Before the tournament, KU’s team was ranked as second overall. The other three top teams — top-ranked Northwestern, Wake Forest and California-Berkeley — all made their way through four days of intense competition and into the single-elimination semifinals.

“I can’t remember that ever happening,” Harris said.

It’s the first national title for the 18-year debate coach at KU, who had teams that reached the Final Four of the National Debate Tournament in 1994 and 1999.

Bricker and Johnson offered high praise for the coach and thanked him and the rest of the squad for their help, saying evidence culled from Harris’ sleepless nights of research during the tournament helped pull them through the final rounds.

Bricker outlined part of the strategy the pair used in the later rounds, pulling out two brand new affirmative cases that they had never run before in an effort to catch the negative team unprepared.

KU debate has 13 NDT Final Four appearances in its history — the same number as the KU basketball team.

KU also won the national title in 1954, 1970, 1976 and 1983 — a tradition not lost on Bricker and Johnson.

“It’s great to have contributed to that history in a positive way,” Johnson said.

One of KU’s national champion debaters, Robert Rowland, who won in 1976 with Frank Cross, is now a professor and chairman of the communication studies department at KU, which oversees the debate program.

“It’s one of those things they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives,” Rowland said. “In these circles, they’ll always be introduced as a national debate champion.”


dkbrown2006 9 years ago

As a former debater I can appreciate the accomplishments of a job well done. Congratulations.

situveux1 9 years ago

These guys work INCREDIBLY hard. Congratulations!!!

HermioneElliott 9 years ago

This is extremely cool. Debate is not an easy thing. I have attended debates on campus. They are open to the public and free. We hear so much about the men's basketball and football as we should, but there is so much more going on at KU. I am very proud of our debate team. There should have been some pictures.

rcjhmichael 9 years ago

Lt. Gov. Parkinson's son also competed in the NDT last weekend. He debated for Harvard and made it to the Sweet 16. Quite a feat!

1957 9 years ago

This is wonderful!!!!!!!!! Congrats to all!!

jonas_opines 9 years ago

Truly, they are master d. . . nah.

rgh 9 years ago

Sweet! Brains, intellectual (spelling?) reasoning with others, and athletic.

That's KU folks!

Great job debaters. You should be every bit as proud as last year's men's basketball team. Way to represent!

skinnee11 9 years ago

This is the caption to the picture of the front page of

"Kansas University debate team members Nate Johnson, left, and Brett Bricker led the to its first National Debate Tournament victory in 26 years."

Notice something missing? Something important? It's right there....

Way to go LJW. Way. To. Go.

SeaJHawk 9 years ago

Rock Chalk!

'Skinnee11' the way you type, we can see exactly what you mean, and I'm laughin' too; great punctuation!

'jonas_opines' you speak for our collective one moment for that 'joke', thank you for speaking of it w/o going there.

I especially liked this part of the article:

“I couldn’t even go to sleep after it was over, I was so wired,” Johnson said. “I didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m.”

that's precious. You can't get away with much else earlier of a bedtime on the highseas.

gunners 9 years ago

It is hard to explain how big a deal with this is for these guys. This isn't a hobby for them, it's 12 hours a day for months on end. They do more work on what they do than almost anyone you'll ever see. And they are phenonmenal student. It's extremely intense, too, check out a video on youtube to see how these debates. And it's not like they do just one or two, but they do three or four three hour debates per day for three or four days in a row. It's exhausting! Congrats, guys.

Dacia McCabe Maher 9 years ago

Outstanding! Passing along a message from G-man, "Uncle Bwett is Hawd Cowa." Translation: Uncle Brett is hard-core. I agree. Now relax and act like a normal college student for once. Cheers!

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