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Visitor essay: Nehlen’s legacy is greater than his report

by Forest “Jack” Bowman

Since Coach Don Nehlen was honored at Saturday’s recreation, it’s time to inform what I consider is a major story from Don Nehlen’s time as our soccer coach.

I served as WVU’s school consultant to the NCAA for 21 years. My job consisted primarily of certifying the tutorial eligibility of our pupil athletes.

Each January, at first of the second semester, I attended the NCAA’s 3- to 4-day enterprise and rule-making assembly with the athletic director. The primary evening of these conferences concerned an enormous reception attended by 1,500 delegates and their company.

In 1982, the assembly was held in San Diego, Calif., and at that first evening reception, Barbara Schaus and I have been standing there marveling on the mass of individuals. (Fred was out someplace within the combine in the meanwhile, in all probability making an attempt to deliver the Last 4 to WVU whereas additionally avoiding the Pitt delegation.)  

A delegate carrying a Michigan badge approached us. (Bear in mind, we had introduced Don Nehlen from Michigan as our soccer coach a pair years earlier.) The person checked out my badge and stated, “West Virginia! You’re fortunate to have Don Nehlen as your soccer coach.”

I stated, “Sure, 9 and three and took us to the Gator Bowl.”

He stated, “Oh, I don’t care about that. Don Nehlen received’t cheat.” And he walked away.

Seventeen years later, within the fall of 1999, I used to be serving on an NCAA Cupboard on Tutorial Integrity that was assembly in a high-rise constructing in downtown Atlanta. We had misplaced our opener that 12 months to East Carolina and, throughout a lapse in dialog, I lamented that loss.

Throughout a espresso break a couple of minutes later, Andy Geiger, the athletic director at Ohio State, got here as much as me and stated, “You may have loads to be proud about at West Virginia. You may have one of many half dozen or so self-supporting athletic packages within the nation. You go to bowls yearly — perhaps not the massive ones, however you retain your followers completely happy. You may have an instructional program to be pleased with.” After which he jabbed me within the chest and stated, “And you’ve got a soccer coach who received’t cheat!”

Twice, two individuals concerned in faculty soccer on the highest ranges volunteered to me that our soccer coach, Don Nehlen, wouldn’t cheat. They weren’t responding to a query from me about whether or not he would cheat. They have been going out of their option to announce to me, unprompted, that they knew Don Nehlen wouldn’t cheat. Interval.

The lesson was clear to me: Don Nehlen was extensively regarded throughout the larger echelons of school athletics as a coach who merely wouldn’t cheat.

If you add to this story Coach Nehlen’s absolute refusal to allow foul language in his program (there have been, you’ll bear in mind, no “F-bombs” from Don Nehlen on the sidelines!) and the best way he handled his gamers and assistant coaches with kindness and respect, it’s clear he’s a category act and we have been blessed to have him coach our boys.

Throughout his years as the pinnacle soccer coach of the Mountaineers, Don Nehlen by no means introduced us a nationwide championship (though he got here shut as soon as). However in my view, he introduced us one thing extra beneficial — a sterling status as an athletic chief we are able to really be pleased with.

After 21 years of watching athletic leaders throughout the nation up shut, I can say with satisfaction that I don’t assume it will get any higher than that.

Forest “Jack” Bowman served because the WVU College Consultant to the NCAA from 1981 to 2002.