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History-setting debate team pulls winning case from Web after negative press

By Robert "Rob" Redding Jr.

Editor & Publisher

ATLANTA, April 24, 2013, 9 p.m. - Emporia State University Debate Coach Samuel A. Maurer today said he removed the notes of the winning arguments from the Web after his team of two black debaters came under fire when they became the first in the country to win both major collegiate debate championships.

The Weekly Standard, on April 13, targeted Ryan Wash, a senior, and Elijah Smith, a sophomore, declaring that Emporia's historic win at the National Debate Tournament and the Cross Examination Debate Association championship mark the official "Decline of Debate". Wash, who is openly gay, and his debate partner won both NDT and CEDA using arguments about black gay sexuality.

Maurer said he took down the notes to the winning case because he was concerned about how conservative media has been attacking the school.

"I took them down after the Weekly Standard started quoting some of our stuff. While I am not all that impressed by the biting nature of the there criticism, it didn't really cut that deep for me. At the same time, I don't want the creative works to be parsed over by the likes of the Rush Limbaugh and their derivatives in their universe."

Still, Wake Forest University communications chair and former debate coach Allan Louden explains the significance of the win in an white-dominated activity.

“CEDA crowns the popular national champion,” Louden explained, noting that the CEDA tournament is open to all teams that choose to compete. “At NDT, teams have to qualify.”

The NDT has been crowning winners for nearly 70 years, according to Emporia. Its website lists the top four places each year going back to 1947. CEDA’s website goes back to 1986.

Louden’s says the “University of California, Berkeley came within one round of doing it” in 2005.

Story continues below ↓



What is most impressive, the team of Wash and Smith beat Northwestern University, which already has 14 national championships at NDT and one CEDA championship for a total of 15. Dartmouth College and Harvard University are tied at six NDT championships for second place. Harvard has one CEDA  championship and Dartmouth has three second place finishes at the CEDA championship.

Towson University Debate Team of Dayvon Love and Deven Cooper were the first all black team to win a national championship in CEDA.

The team from Emporia is the first black team to win the NDT championship.

Watch the final NDT round:



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