KU debate team wins National Debate Tournament, clinching its sixth national title

University of Kansas debaters Will Katz, left, and Quaram Robinson, right, are pictured at the National Debate Tournament, which ended early Tuesday, March 27, 2018, at Wichita State University. Katz and Robinson defeated a team from Georgetown University to win KU's sixth debate national championship.

The University of Kansas just clinched a national title, and it didn’t come from its men’s basketball team. (Not yet, anyway.)

KU Debate teammates Quaram Robinson and Will Katz defeated Georgetown University in the final round of the National Debate Tournament, which began late Monday night at Wichita State University. The Jayhawks won on a 4-3 decision, the team announced in posts on social media early Tuesday.

The victory marks KU Debate’s sixth National Debate Tournament championship. The team won its last national championship in 2009 and also took home the title in 1954, 1970, 1976 and 1983.

The KU men’s basketball team has five national championships under its belt, with the chance of winning its sixth over the next week of the NCAA tournament in San Antonio.

Last Thursday, a day before the tournament’s final kickoff, Robinson and Katz received the Rex Copeland award. The annual trophy goes to the team ranked No. 1 in the first round, recognizing the team with the best regular-season performance.

Robinson, of Round Rock, Texas, and Katz, of Topeka, ended their regular season in February as the top-ranked individual team nationwide in the final College Debate Ratings.

Over the 2017-2018 regular season, the pair competed at five major tournaments and won three tournament championships. They tallied 21 wins and two losses in the elimination rounds of those tournaments and had an overall record of 55 wins and eight losses during the season, according to an earlier press release from KU.

KU Debate director Scott Harris, in the press release, said it was “the best regular season performance by a KU team in my 28 years directing the program.”

KU has had considerable success over the 72-year existence of the National Debate Tournament, qualifying in 67 of those years. The Jayhawks have advanced to the final four of the tournament 16 times, including in 2016, when Robinson and partner Sion Bell took second to Harvard in the championship.

Robinson made history several times during this year’s National Debate Tournament, Harris noted on his personal Twitter account.

“She is the first black woman on a team to finish in the top 5 teams in the national rankings,” Harris wrote when Robinson and Katz won the Rex Copeland award. “That is 1 out of 460 debaters dating back to 1973 when first round at large rankings for the National Debate Tournament began.”

In addition, Harris wrote Monday night, Robinson is the first KU debater to make it to the National Debate Tournament championship twice, and the first Jayhawk to make it to the elimination rounds of the tournament four times.

“She just keeps shattering records,” Harris wrote.