Posted by Brad @ 7:12 pm on August 23rd 2008

No More Fort Hays Debate

Maybe I should wait for Rojas to post about it, but a followup to his post on the dueling debate coaches from Fort Hays and Pitt and their rather heated argument.

The President of the school held a press conference and announced that the Fort Hays coach has been fired, and their debate program suspended indefinitely.

The president continued: “Professor Shanahan’s conduct falls below the standard established to protect our university, its faculty, students and alumni. As a representative of FHSU, he had a duty of care that was seriously breached by his behavior.”

“If the coach of one of our athletic teams became angry and ‘mooned’ officials, student athletes and fans during a sports event, he or she would no longer be a coach at Fort Hays State University,” President Hammond said. “Standards for our debate program are certainly just as high.”

Heh. Boy, I sure knew me some debate coaches that fell well short of that bar.


  1. I haven’t followed up on the initial post because, frankly, the resolution of the issue depresses me.

    Shanahan’s firing was the result of his conduct in the round in question (a national quarterfinal, no less; it’s the equivalent of Bobby Knight dropping his pants on-court during the NCAA regional final).

    Fort Hays’ administration, however, did not end their program for that reason. Rather, they killed it because, following their investigation, they concluded that the round in question was a typical example of the way college debate as a whole is conducted, and they wanted no part of any such enterprise.

    For the record, I think that it would be fair to say that the behavioral example in question is an extreme example of what college debate has become, but not an entirely atypical one. I guess I can’t fault any administration which chooses not to fund it, and I expect there will be more of this sort of thing coming down the pipe.

    The problem is that the behaviors in question are NOT typical of all levels of debate (certainly not of Kansas high school debate in particular), and a whole lot of people who don’t endorse this sort of thing are going to be placed under very strict scrutiny as a result of this incident.

    The decision came down a couple of days ago. Since that time, the online arguments among members of the debate community have been something to behold. I am currently engaged in a back-and-forth on a debate forum with a guy who actually thinks that Shanahan ought to initiate a first amendment lawsuit against Fort Hays State. That is how insulated from reality portions of my community have become.

    Meanwhile, the most respected high school coach in Kansas history looks to be guilty not just of sexually molesting a foreign exchange student who’d been staying with him, but also of doing the same to his own three sons over a period of decades.

    Sad, sad days for the game that I love.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/23/2008 @ 9:30 pm

  2. Jesus.

    Comment by Brad — 8/23/2008 @ 9:38 pm

  3. Yeah.

    Isolation can do strange things to a community. Now, I suspect, college debate is going to be dragged, kicking and screaming, back into the mainstream. That will be good in many ways, but it is going to be an ugly process to be a part of.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/23/2008 @ 9:45 pm

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