And Nehlen has seen coaches skate, as have all of us who follow college football. USC got hit with sanctions; ex-Trojan coach Pete Carroll is now being showered with millions as the NFL Seattle Seahawks coach.
"People who do the cheating," Nehlen said, "can move on. Look at Penn State. The kids and coaches there now are paying."
There has been improvement. When Ohio State was hit with a bowl ban, then-head coach Jim Tressel's punishment mirrored that of former Tennessee hoops coach Bruce Pearl, who received a three-year ban. Tressel must be out of coaching until the 2017 season. If another school wants to hire him to coach before that, it must go before the NCAA committee on infractions to argue its case.
Such measures should extend to assistants.
"If someone moves on," Nehlen said, "the violations should move with him or her."
It's a start. But the trick is to eliminate the risk-reward angle. If a coach, especially one with no school ties, feels his or her job/salary is in jeopardy, why not break rules to get an edge? Doing so isn't illegal. It's simply against NCAA rules.
There is language in most coaching contracts that says cheating is cause for termination. But if a coach is headed for a firing anyway, what difference does the reason make? Might as well throw a few haymakers, hope they land and pray no one finds out, right?
Lowering salaries would help. But there's a market for sharp coaches, and schools can't make a pact over maximum salaries. That would be restraint of trade. It would be artificially controlling the market. It would be against our laws.
So what to do?
Make coaches earn their salaries. Make sure they know the NCAA - as well as their particular sport's - rulebook. Test them repeatedly. Include strong contract language and make sure cheaters are immediately terminated and there is no further compensation after termination.
Perhaps schools could defer part of those large contracts until, say, five years after the job/marriage is resolved. If no violations surface, a payout is made.
It's time to dig at the root of the problem. Make the risk as risky as possible.
And burn those responsible, not the innocent.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.