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Coaching Staff

John Koch | M. L. Sandoz | Neil Butt
Susan MaderBrandon EvansBrittney Evans (Bleyle)


John Koch
Associate Director of Debate

John Koch joined the Vanderbilt Debate Team as Associate Director of Debate in 2016. Koch was formerly the Interim Director of Forensics at the University of Puget Sound, and had previously coached at both Wayne State University and Capital University.


M. L. Sandoz
Director of Forensics

M.L. Sandoz joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1991 and is currently the Director of Forensics. Professor Sandoz teaches sections of Public Speaking, Argumentation & Debate, and Interpersonal Communication. In the 2003-2004 academic year, Sandoz was the President of CEDA (Cross Examination Debate Association) and the Director of the CEDA National Tournament held in Louisville, KY. She has served CEDA in numerous roles and has won many coaching awards.

M.L. Sandoz’s Various Debate Roles:

  • Melissa Maxcy Wade Award (2016)
  • CEDA Brownlee Award (2012)
  • SEC Director of the Year (2011)
  • CEDA Galentine Award (2006)
  • Executive Council (2004-present)
  • President & National Tournament Director (2004)
  • Cross Examination Debate Association: National Tournament Tabroom Staff (2002-present)
  • Topic Selection Committee
  • CEDA Constitutional Revision Committee (1999)
  • CEDA National Awards Committee (1998)
  • CEDA National Nominating Committee (1998)

M.L. Sandoz’s Coaching Awards:

  • The National John A. Jacobsohn Memorial Award for career contributions to education through debate.
  • Outstanding Coach of the Year, 2003, Southeast Central CEDA.
  • The Dr. Amy Fugate Leadership Award, 2003, presented at the Kansas City Kansas Community College Invitational Debate Tournament for outstanding leadership in CEDA.
  • Southern Forensics Association’s Forensic Educator of the Year, presented at the Southern States Communication Association 71 st Annual Meeting, Lexington, KY, 2001.
  • Critic of the Year Award, Southeast Central Region, Cross Examination Debate Association , 2000.
  • Top Coach Award, Novice and JV National Tournament, Towson University, Cross Examination Association, 2008, 2004, 1999, 1998, 1997, and 1995.
  • Faculty sponsor for VUPoint, a weekly television program aired by Vanderbilt TV, a closed circuit student-run station. VUPoint hosts debates and discussions on issues important to Vanderbilt, Tennessee, the United States, and the world. This program won the 2002 CEDA National Public Debate Award.

Neil Butt
Director of Debate

Butt joined the Vanderbilt Debate program in 2010. He had previously coached teams at Wayne State University in Detroit (MI), John Carroll University in Cleveland (OH), and George Mason University in Fairfax (VA).

Butt has worked with debaters at all levels from novice middle school students up through the Top Speaker at the 2007 National Debate Tournament. He has coached at both the high school and intercollegiate levels, served as the university liaison for the Detroit Urban Debate League, volunteered for DebateWatch, and has coordinated public debates on subjects ranging from the Iraq War to Business Ethics.


Susan Mader

Susan Mader debated for Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate, and began coaching while attending Vanderbilt Law School in 2006.

In addition to coaching debate, Mader is currently a practicing attorney in Nashville.


Brandon Evans

Brandon Evans joined the Vanderbilt Debate coaching staff in May 2014.


Brittney Evans (Bleyle)

Brittney Evans (Bleyle) joined the Vanderbilt Debate coaching staff in 2014.