Joining KU Debate

An Adventure In Competition, Learning, and Life!

KU Debate alums have found intercollegiate policy debate to be preparation for life, whether that means a career focused on the classroom, the boardroom, or the courtroom. The rigorous training that intercollegiate debate instills serves graduates for life. READ MORE...

Part of the Family

Being part of the debate team at KU is more than just participating in an extra-curricular activity. It's like being part of a large extended family. KU debaters are the benefices of a long tradition in debate and forensic activities dating back over three quarters of a century. Alumni are an important part of our family, but so are the faculty who work with us, the coaching staff, and the debaters themselves, who live, work, and socialize together. "You'll be hard pressed to find a nicer bunch of people to work and travel with," says former Assistant Coach, Kevin Minch. "Our debaters are genuinely friendly. They care about each other and their work. It shows in their performance and the way they work together."

Quality Training

KU debaters get the best coaching the University's resources can obtain.

Dr. Scott Harris, Director of Debate

Dr. Scott Harris, Director of Debate, Director of Debate has been the debate coach at KU since 1991.  He won the Northwestern Debate Society Award for excellent in coaching in 2010; the Ovid Davis Award for winning a national championship in 2009; the National Debate Coach of the Year Award in 2006, and the George Ziegelmueller Career Debate Coaching Award in 2006.  He is the Vice President of the American Forensic Association and was awarded the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship for the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2010.  As a head coach his teams have qualified for the National Debate Tournament every year since 1987.  As a debater he was the 2nd speaker at the National Debate Tournament in 1981.

Assistant Debate Coaches

Brett Bricker, Natalie Pennington, Mike Kearney, Justin Kirk, Chris Stone, Mark Wonnacott, and Dr. Kelly Winfrey.


KU Debate has a record of success unmatched in American debate. KU has qualified more teams to the National Debate Tournament than any other debate program in America. It has had fourteen "Final Four" appearances and won five national titles.

KU debaters have gone on to success after college as well. KU Debate alumni include lawyers, legislators, former state and federal attorney generals, prosecutors, and Justice Department officals, financiers, teachers, professors, artists, doctors, and civic leaders.


KU debaters travel widely -- regardless of their class level. In the past few years, KU debate has criss-crossed the nation, from California to New York, from Texas to Illinois. Debaters drive in University vans or fly to their destinations all at the team's expense. Students do not pay for travel or for competition at KU.


KU debaters have access to their own working space in KU's Bailey Hall. The team's squadroom is equipped with computers, a laser printer, a photocopier, and all of the equipment necessary to produce quality briefs. Students can always use the squadroom as a place to hang out, do homework, search Lexis-Nexis, and check their latest e-mail messages.

Coming to KU

Click for a virtual tour of the KU campus
The KU Campus
If you are thinking about attending KU, you'll want to make the necessary arrangements to visit the campus, talk to admissions, meet with the coaching staff, and visit academic departments. We can help you to make those arrangements. If you want a recruitment packet, please direct a letter to:

KU Debate
The University of Kansas
Department of Communication Studies
B105 Bailey Hall
Lawrence, KS 66044

The packet includes an application to the University, background information on the team, information about scholarships and housing, and other helpful facts.

If you wish to make a campus visit and meet the members of the team and staff, please call at least two weeks in advance at (785) 864-9878. E-Mail can be directed to We will arrange for you to stay in the dorms or with one of our debaters, and acclimate you to the KU Debate environment. You can also click here to take a virtual tour of the KU campus

If you're already a KU student, call or stop by our offices in the sub-basement of Bailey Hall. We'd be happy to talk to you.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, retaliation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and is the University’s Title IX Coordinator: the Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.