West Virginia University’s nationally ranked debate team is hosting a regional tournament this weekend, Feb. 9-11, bringing about 100 collegiate debaters from 15 colleges and universities as far away as Texas to Morgantown.


The first annual John A. Jacobsohn Memorial Mountaineer Classic, which is being sanctioned by both the Cross Examination Debate Association and the American Debate Association, has been named in memory of the WVU political science professor who coached the Debate Team from 1990 until his untimely death in 1997.


The tournament will feature competition in the three standard divisions of collegiate debatevarsity, junior varsity and novice. Two preliminary rounds will be held Friday in classrooms throughout the academic buildings in and around WVU ’s Woodburn Circle. Four additional preliminary rounds will be held Saturday, and elimination rounds will be held Sunday.


WVU debaters will participate in preliminary rounds, but, as is customary in collegiate debate competition, will not be eligible for individual or team awards as representatives of the tournament’s host.


The WVU Debate Team is currently ranked 11th nationally, with perennial debate powerhouse Emory University ranking first. WVU has been ranked as high as second during the academic year. The team next travels to tournaments at James Madison University and Towson University. The season ends just prior to Spring Break, near the end of March. The team is coached by Neil Berch, associate professor of political science in the Eberly College of Arts of Sciences.


“We are very proud of our debaters’overall progress this year and look forward to their efforts to finish the year ranked in the top 10,”said Eberly Dean M. Duane Nellis.”We also look forward to this new annual event, which validates WVU ’s stature within the debate community. It is also a fitting tribute to a professor who worked so hard with our students in debate and in other educationally enriching activities beyond the traditional classroom.”