Baylor Debate’s tradition of excellence dates back to the university’s earliest days
A little trivia for you: Which Baylor team has won three national championships, appeared in nine Final Fours, and been a part of life here since the very earliest days of the university?
The answer: Baylor Debate.
When the Baylor debate team won their season-opening contest at an invitation-only tournament earlier this fall, it continued a tradition of excellence that goes back almost to Baylor’s founding. In fact, the debate program is the oldest co-curricular, university-sponsored activity at Baylor. By the time the university published its first catalogue in 1851, students were already taking part in intramural debating. Baylor students moved from debating one another to competing against peers from other schools in 1893, when BU held its first intercollegiate debate against the University of Texas. (Among the participants that day for the Bears? Future Texas Governor and Baylor president Pat Neff.)
Officially, the team is known as the Glenn. R. Capp Debate Forum, and the program’s three national titles (1975, 1987 and 1989) reveal only part of what makes “The Capp” so special.
The program counts among its alumni four former Baylor presidents — Neff, Samuel Palmer Brooks, William R. White, and Abner McCall — and three former Texas governors — Neff, Price Daniel, and Ann Richards (who credits Baylor Debate for helping prepare her for a political career). Other notable Baylor debate alumni include former U.S. Senator Tom Connally, Congressman W.R. Pogue, and successful businessman Joe Allbritton.
The program is named after legendary debate professor Glenn R. Capp, who took the program to new heights over four decades as coach from the 1940s-70s and is widely recognized as the father of modern debate in this area of the country. The team is currently coached by Dr. Matt Gerber, MA ’99, a Baylor debate alum who serves as associate professor of communication and the Capp Chair of Forensics in the Baylor Department of Communication, along with Dr. Scott Varda, associate communications professor and associate director of debate. At their season-opening victory in Utah, Gerber earned the Val Browning Director of the Year Award, extending Baylor’s long history of top honors for coaches as well as debaters.
Sic ’em, Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum!