Baylor Debate Team Prepares for National Debate Tournament after Big Wins at Mid-America Championship, District 3 Qualifier

March 7, 2019

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (March 7, 2019) – Members of Baylor University's nationally ranked debate program, the Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum, will be spending their spring "break" researching and fine-tuning their arguments for the 73rd National Debate Tournament (NDT), which begins March 20 at the University of Minnesota.

Baylor Debate turned in a dominant performance with a 21-3 record at the Mid America Championship (MAC) and the 2019 NDT District 3 qualifying tournament held Feb. 22-24 at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Baylor Debate is the oldest co-curricular activity at Baylor, dating back to 1845 – the year Baylor was chartered by the Republic of Texas.

With a 7-1 record, Baylor's dynamic freshman duo of Collin Smith and Tony Wyatt won first place at the Mid-America Championship, defeating teams from the University of Texas at Austin, University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma and Wichita State University to capture the tournament.

Smith, a freshman professional writing and rhetoric major from Cabot, Arkansas, and Wyatt, a freshman journalism major from Lindale, Texas, were among the nation's best high school debaters last year. They came to Baylor to compete for one of the oldest and most successful college debate programs in the country.

Baylor Debate also won second and third place at the District 3 qualifier, the tournament which determines qualification for the national championship.

Placing second was Baylor's team of Alec Ramsey, a junior anthropology major from Lindale, and Elan Wilson, a junior political science major from Pflugerville, Texas. Ramsey and Wilson posted a 7-1 record while defeating teams from the University of Texas, Trinity University, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Wichita State on their way to qualifying for the NDT.

Also qualifying for nationals and posting a 7-1 record was Baylor's team of Greg Zoda, a senior political science and communication major from Nashua, New Hampshire, and Jonas Thrasher-Evers, a sophomore from Tyler, Texas.

Zoda, one of the nation's most accomplished debaters, is on a winning streak. His combined record at the past three tournaments, including the highly competitive California swings held at the University of Southern California and Cal State Fullerton over the winter break, is an astonishing 20-2.

"Greg has been the research backbone of the Baylor Debate team for the past several years. He is one of the most well-read debaters and best speakers I have ever coached," said director Matt Gerber, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and The Capp Chair in Forensics in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. Gerber has directed the Capp Forum since 2006.

Effective advocates

Debate – and the ability to be an effective advocate – is more important in today's society than ever before, Gerber said. Debate teaches the kinds of critical thinking and evidence-evaluation skills needed to wade through a morass of facts and opinions and differentiate between good and bad public arguments, he said.

"Debate at the intercollegiate competitive level ramps up this deliberative process to 180 miles per hour and follows a rigid set of rules and time limits, where teams from across the country compete against other and are critiqued by highly trained judges, who usually have Ph.D.'s in argumentation, rhetoric, political science or a related field," Gerber said.

Baylor has won three national championships in debate and appeared in nine Final Four competitions since the NDT began in 1947. In 2018, Baylor Debate advanced to the NDT's Sweet 16 round, finishing the season ranked 11th in NDT varsity points and first in their Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) region.

The debate program contributes to Baylor's transformational undergraduate experience by bringing together undergraduates in majors from across the curriculum, from communication, political science and philosophy to astrophysics and chemistry. Although they have different academic paths, the students share a passion for public deliberation and debate and enjoy the opportunity to represent Baylor across the nation against the highest levels of competition.

"Debating as an undergraduate at Baylor is truly a transformative, life-changing, career-altering activity," Gerber said. "The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum has for decades sent its undergraduate debaters on to positions of leadership in the legal field, politics, academia and non-profit advocacy."

Following the NDT, the Capp Forum will host a public debate on campus in April. The program also hosts a Summer Debate Workshop from July 14-20, which includes a Debate Policy Workshop that emphasizes research and skill development on the NSDA/UIL policy debate resolution for the upcoming season and a Lincoln-Douglas Debate Workshop that provides students with an intensive, skill-specific experience on the upcoming high school Lincoln-Douglas debate topic.

For more information, visit or contact Gerber at ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit