Scott L. Harris, Ph.D Northwestern University - David B. Pittaway Director of Debate
Director of Debate at the University of Kansas since 1991. As a coach he has qualified teams for the National Debate Tournament every year from 1982-2020. He has coached teams to two NDT National Championships, and seven Final Four appearances. In 2020 he was voted one of the top 5 college debate coaches of the decade for the second consecutive decade. He was also voted the 2nd best judge of the decade for 2010-2019. He is the 2020 winner of a Steeples Service Award. He was named "Educator of the Year" by the Kansas Speech Communication Association in both 2018 and 2019. Winner of the James J. Unger Award from the National Debate Tournament in 2018. Winner of the Jeffrey W. Jarman Debate "Person of the Year" Award in 2017. Winner of the Brownlee Debate Coach of the Year Award from the Cross Examination Debate Association in 2015. Winner of the Northwestern Debate Society Award for excellence in coaching in 2010. Winner of the Ovid Davis Award in 2009. Winner of the George Ziegelmueller Award for excellence in debate coaching in 2006. Winner of the National Debate Coach of the Year Award in 2006. Served as President of the Cross Examination Debate Association 2018-19 and Vice President 2016-18. Served as President of the American Forensic Association 2012-2014 and Vice-President 2010-2012. Was the inaugural winner of the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship for the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2011. Spent 5 years as Director of Debate at the University of Louisville and was an assistant coach at Northwestern University and Wayne State University. He has taught debate at numerous summer debate camps including at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, Baylor University and the University of Iowa. He has also taught debate at Beijing Foreign Studies University. As a debater at Wayne State University he was a four time qualifier for the National Debate Tournament, a three time qualifier for the elimination rounds, and a two time first round at large qualifier. He was 2nd speaker at the NDT in 1981 and 8th speaker in 1980. He was Top Speaker at numerous tournaments including Dartmouth, Florida State, West Georgia twice and twice at the DSR-TKA National Championship Tournament. He was a two time winner of the DSR-TKA National Debate Championship including defeating KU in the finals in 1980 and the national runner up in a 3rd appearance losing to KU in the championship debate in 1981. He teaches courses at KU on Rhetoric and Argumentation with a focus on the Rhetoric of Sports, War, Public Address, and Conspiracy.
Brett Bricker, Ph.D University of Kansas - Associate Director of Debate
Debate coach at the University of Kansas since 2010. As a coach he has has helped lead KU to 3 NDT Final Fours including a National Championship in 2018. He was the winner of the Ovid Davis Award for coaching the top ranked team in the country in 2018. He was voted one of the top 10 debate judges in the country for the decade of 2010-2019. As a debater Brett has the most wins in the history of the University of Kansas debate program. He won the National Debate Tournament in 2009. He won multiple other tournaments including Harvard, the University of Southern California, West Georgia and the Kentucky Round Robin. He was a four time qualifier for the National Debate Tournament and a three time qualifier for the elimination rounds. He received three first round at large bids to the NDT including a 2nd place ranking in 2009 and a 3rd place ranking in 2008. He was 2nd speaker at the NDT in 2009 and 3rd speaker in 2008. He was Top Speaker at numerous tournaments including Georgia State, Harvard, the University of Southern California, West Georgia, the Kentucky Round Robin and twice at the Dartmouth Round Robin. He spent three years as debate coach at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and has taught at numerous summer debate institutes including the University of Michigan. He has even taught debate in Shanghai China. His major research interests are in rhetorical criticism, environmental discourse and argumentation. His work has been published in a number of journals including Communication Studies, Argumentation and Advocacy, Western Journal of Communication and Contemporary Argumentation and Debate.
Benton Bajorek - Assistant Debate Coach
Benton is an doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies. Benton began his debate career at Arkansas State University where he competed in multiple forms of debate including Parliamentary, IPDA, Team IPDA, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum. During his time competing, he received several top speaker awards, won first place at multiple tournaments, and ended his senior season as a 2015 Team IPDA National Semifinalist. In addition to his success at tournaments, he places an emphasis on giving back to the debate community. He volunteered his time to coach at local high schools to help establish debate programs though the Delta Debate League Initiative and spearheaded a community service project that received the 2014 Service Award, sponsored by the Noel Foundation.
Jyleesa Hampton - Assistant Debate Coach
Jyleesa won the 2015 Brian Johnston Award as the National Debater of the Year. She took 2nd place at the 2015 Cross Examination Debate Association national tournament. She was 2nd speaker at the CEDA national tournament and won numerous other speaker awards at national tournaments. She was a first round at large recipient and elimination round participant at the 2015 National Debate Tournament. She is a Board Member of the Women’s Debate Institute. Jyleesa was named a Woman of Distinction by the University of Kansas in 2016, and received a Diversity Leadership Award from KU in 2016.
Ned Gidley - Assistant Debate Coach
Julia Henry - Assistant Debate Coach
Derek Hilligoss - Assistant Debate Coach
Derek is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies. Debating at the University of Central Oklahoma Derek qualified to the National Debate Tournament 4 times, reaching the octo-finals twice and receiving a first-round at large bid his last year. He also reached elimination rounds of other major nationals such as Kentucky, Wake Forest, Cal Swings, Texas/Northwestern, and CEDA. Previously coaching at Wake Forest University during his Masters program he helped coach teams to the NDT.
Jacob Justice - Assistant Debate Coach
Jake is a doctoral student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Communication Studies. He debated in high school at Dexter High School, and for five years at Wayne State University. At Wayne State University, Jake qualified to the National Debate Tournament 3 times and reached the elimination rounds at multiple national tournaments including Georgia State University, Harvard, the University of Southern California, California State University Fullerton, Northwestern, and the University of Texas. He also received a top-20 speaker award at the 2014 Georgia State University and Harvard tournaments.
Will Katz - Assistant Debate Coach
Will has been involved with the KU debate team since 2014, first as a competitor, then as a coach starting in 2019. He won the National Debate Tournament and the Rex R. Copeland award for the top-ranked regular season team in 2018. He was a semi-finalist and fourth speaker at the American Debate Association national tournament in 2018. He won multiple regular season tournaments including Georgia State University, the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest, and the University of Central Oklahoma. On top of coaching debate at KU, he has coached numerous successful high school debaters to state championships, TOC elimination rounds, late elimination rounds of nearly every statewide, regional, and national tournament including the 2019 NSDA National co-champions.
Xi Li - Assistant Debate Coach
Talya Slaw - Assistant Debate Coach
Jesse Smith - Assistant Debate Coach
Alaina Walberg - Assistant Debate Coach