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Debate coaches lose their cool, one pulls down his pants

Sunday, August 17, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An argument between two debate coaches that was caught on video was not the sharp-witted dialogue typically associated with college debate teams. Instead, the two traded profanity-laced barbs and one of them pulled down his shorts, exposing his underwear.

An eight-minute segment of the argument, in which each cursed repeatedly and one student near the camera can be heard crying, was posted on YouTube on Aug. 2 and has garnered more than 200,000 hits.

"In 18 years of taking part in debates, I have never seen an incident like this one," said Gordon Stables, first vice president of the Cross Examination Debate Association, which sponsored the March tournament in Wichita, Kan., where the argument took place.

Stables, who is also director of the University of Southern California's debate squad, said the association was investigating.

In the video, Fort Hays State University debate coach William Shanahan is shown arguing with Shanara Reid-Brinkley, debate coach at the University of Pittsburgh, during the competition's quarterfinals.

The argument, which appears to be at least in part about race, is punctuated with frequent cursing and name-calling. Shanahan, who is white, and Reid-Brinkley, who is black, scream criticisms about one another's body language during students' debates.

At one point Shanahan screams as he jumps up, then yanks his shorts down to his knees and points his rear end at Reid-Brinkley.

Phone messages left for Reid-Brinkley and Shanahan were not returned Thursday. Officials at Pitt and Fort Hays State, a university of about 9,000 students in western Kansas, said they were investigating.


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