No debate about it: U-M team finds success in ‘Elite Eight’

April 4, 2013
Jared Wadley

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan’s men’s basketball team is reaping national praise for its upcoming Final Four appearance, but another U-M team recently achieved its own success by making it into the “Elite Eight.”

The U-M Debate Team of Ellis Allen and Alexander Pappas, both sophomores, won fifth place in the quarterfinals at the 67th annual 2013 National Debate Tournament in Ogden, Utah. Allen was the eighth-best speaker in the tournament and Pappas won the 10th-place speaker award.

“This was a tremendous accomplishment by the team, and we look forward to them going farther in the tournament next year,” said Aaron Kall, who directs the debate team.

The tournament, held March 29-April 1, featured 78 teams of two debaters.

Another U-M team—senior Kyle Deming and junior Kevin Hirn—reached the “Sweet Sixteen.” Deming also received the 15th annual William J. Taylor internship, which offers a stint at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The last time a U-M debater won this prestigious internship happened in 1998.

The debate team, which is part of the Division of Student Affairs, started in 1890. It first qualified in 1971 for the National Debate Tournament and has since made 30 appearances. The team has won second place twice (1989, 1991), third place six times (1988, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2008, 2011) and fifth place seven times (1971, 1972, 1988, 1989, 1992, 2001, 2013). It has reached the elimination rounds (top 32) at the tournament for the last seven years in a row (2007-2013).

This year’s debate topic: the federal government should substantially reduce restrictions on and/or substantially increase financial incentives for energy production in the United States of one or more of the following: coal, crude oil, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power and wind power.

For more information about the program, visit