Tuesday, May 28, 2024

LSUS debate program ranked top-10 in U.S. among all debate styles

by BIZ Magazine

The LSUS Debate program has a storied history as one of the founders of the International Public Debate Association style.

But a new ranking from American Liberty Media placed LSUS in the top-10 nationally among programs in all forms of debate.

LSUS was tied for ninth with Rice University, Mercer University, University of Michigan and the University of Georgia.

Teams at the top of the rankings included Harvard University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, George Mason University, Yale University, University of Kansas, and the University of Southern California.

“To be listed with those giants of the academic world is a nod to the students’ hard work, past and present, and the coaches that have developed this program over the years,” said LSUS Debate coach A.J. Edwards. “We have known for years that our students are just as capable and intelligent as any student, and this is just a confirmation of their abilities, dedication and passion.

“It shows the excellent history of competitive success, the support this team has received from all administrators, and the coaches’ fantastic job in creating access for the students to wonderful opportunities like the Madison Cup and the Montgomery Cup tour.”

The rankings were based on a program’s competitive opportunity, competitive success, coaching staff, resources, historical success and program prestige.

The Pilots were the only top-10 program from a public university with fewer than 25,000 students.

To find the complete rankings of the nation’s top 50 debate programs, visit the American Liberty Media website.

LSUS received an ‘A’ rating with 28 points earned on a 30-point speaker scale and an overall grade of 93 out of 100 points.

The Pilots were the top program in their style of debate (IPDA).

LSUS is coming off a season in which the team finished third in the overall season standings and claimed two individual national titles. Cameron Thoele and CJ Longino took home a team debate national title for the entire season while Thoele claimed a national champion speaker in the team category (Longino was runner up).

“For a small school with a very high rate of first generation students – students that generally don’t come to LSUS with many advantages – there is a lot of validation in these rankings,” Edwards said. “These students have to work full-time jobs in most cases.

“The history of the LSUS Debate team has always been very special to us, our debate alumni, and the administration. But this bring a whole different level of validation and recognition.”

Another form of recognition is that LSUS has four of the eight total Hall of Famer in the IPDA. Three were inducted this year into the organization – Edwards and Keith Milstead as debaters and Trey Gibson as a coach.

The trio joined 2023 hall of fame inductee Mary Jarzabek, a long-time LSUS coach.

LSUS has a total of six season-long team national championships and four team national tournament titles in its history.

“None of the program’s success over the years happens without complete institutional support and without (Jarzabek and Gibson), who dedicated so much time and effort to these students,” Edwards said. “Coaching a debate team and traveling on the weekends is a full-time job, and these two created something special that set the program up for success for years to come.

“The LSUS Foundation, the Noel Foundation and the Bradley S. Kemp Foundation have been avid supporters and have allowed us to travel to events like The Madison Cup (Virginia) and The Montgomery Cup (United Kingdom).”

LSUS support allows the team to appear regularly in regional tournaments, a key component of accumulating season point totals.

“We have great support here where many other debate programs struggle in that category,” Edwards said. “This University has embraced this program.”

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