John Carroll University has been actively and continuously involved in academic debate since the 1920’s.  We compete in both two person policy debate [ADA, CEDA, NDT] and in Lincoln Douglas debate.  The program is extremely active,and has won four national championships – in 1937 and 1938, and more recently, in the American Debate Association in 2000 [varsity] and 2006 [novice].  The team competes in more than a dozen tournaments per year.

The goal of our program is to help students maximize their educational development in a highly competitive and fun environment.  Research demonstrates that competitive debaters develop a wide range of skills in critical thinking, advocacy, research, and listening.  They also tend to be more socially and politically active than non-debaters, are much more likely to seek additional degrees, and tend to have greater success in finding jobs in their chosen fields.  Our JCU debate alumni have a long and distinguished track record of success with which to support those claims.  Our currrent debaters recognize those skills developing those skills developing within themselves.  Although most of them enter as freshmen, fearful of finding time to work debate into their schedules, many of them soon become double majors, honors students, and frequent members of the Dean’s List for academic achievement.  They enjoy the camaraderie of being part of an intellectual family that works and plays together in advancing common goals.

The Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts offers three debate awards each year – The President’s Cup, the Dean’s Cup, and the Freeley Scholar.  Additionally, the team recognizes awards for Outstanding Debater, Most Valuable Debater, Most Improved Debater, Outstanding Freshman, and Outstanding Senior.  Career accomplishments are also recognized in our Centurion List and our Debate Wall of Fame.

In addition to our own competitions, JCU Debate is active in a variety of service programs, including the Cleveland League of Urban Debate, the Ohio High School Speech League, and in a debate program we run at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Dr. Austin J. Freeley is John Carroll University’s most famous director of debate.  He ran the program from 1958 through 1985 and is best known for his revolutionary debate text, Argumentation and Debate, which was the best selling debate textbook of all time.  It was translated into 23 languages, spreading American style debate around the world.  He was also one of the founders of the American Forensics Association, which governs all debate and speaking events in the United States.

The team is currently directed by Dr. Brent Brossmann, who has run the program since 1993.  He can be reached at 216-397-4375 or at