Gene Corrigan, the athletic director at Notre Dame, a school that has never been placed on NCAA probation for cheating, is a man who believes there will always be cheating in collegiate athletics.

"Locks don't stop robbers and rules don't stop cheaters," Corrigan said. "There has always been cheating in college sports. If (NCAA Executive Director) Walter Byers thinks 30 percent of the schools cheat now, I'll bet 60 or 80 percent cheated 30 years ago.

"But now there's television and now everyone notices everything. So, it's a problem, a big problem, and we have to find answers."

In the wake of recent revelations about payoffs to athletes from coaches, alumni and agents, Corrigan is one of a growing number of people involved in collegiate athletics who believe it is time to take severe steps to reduce the incidents of cheating.

The increased attention focused on recent scandals has caused increased awareness of the problem, if not a unified approach on how to solve it.

"The way things are now, the basic mentality is that if we get caught cheating, it will be worth it because of what we have already won," Indiana basketball Coach Bob Knight said.

"N.C. State won the NCAA basketball championship in 1974 (after coming off probation) with players it cheated to get. They should not have been allowed to play in that tournament, period."

Cheating breaks down into three basic categories: inducements used in recruiting, extra benefits given to stars while in school and payments received from agents hungry to sign potential first-round draft choices.

These are some of the suggestions made by coaches and administrators in recent days that they believe might at least cut down on violations in all three areas:

* Instead of placing schools caught cheating on probation, cancel their schedules. Although this is permissable under current NCAA rules, it has happened only twice in NCAA history (Kentucky in 1951 and Southwestern Louisiana in 1974, both in basketball), but now some people think it is the only real deterrent to chronic cheaters. If the violations are not severe enough to merit canceling a schedule, then it is suggested the school be made to play all its games on the road for a year.

* Take away a program's scholarships for a year or two. "Make it impossible for a school coming off probation to win a national championship," said Georgia Tech Coach Bill Curry. "If you take every scholarship away, even for one year in football, that will happen."

* Write clauses into coaches' contracts that say any cheating involving the coach or his program will result in his immediate firing.

* Make players involved in any kind of payoff ineligible to play collegiately. "If they get paid, they're professionals," said Maryland basketball Coach Lefty Driesell. "It shouldn't be debated; it should just be done."

* Restore the monthly stipend given to scholarship athletes until 1975. In the 1950s, the NCAA gave athletes $15 a month for incidental expenses. The figures suggested now range from $50 to $100 a month and are suggested largely to keep players from being tempted by agents who offer free meals and other relatively minor inducements. "That would cut out a lot of petty stuff, especially with the agents," said Chuck Neinas, chairman of the College Football Association.

* Give schools in conferences the option to refuse to play a conference school caught cheating and placed on probation. "Why should a school be forced to play another school that isn't playing by the same rules?" Corrigan said.

* Take away a scholarship from a school for each recruited athlete who does not graduate within five years.

* Make any high school athlete who is employed by anyone connected with a given university -- coach, teacher, alumnus, student -- ineligible to receive a scholarship to that school.

The last suggestion was made by Knight in the wake of a recent story that Lowell Hamilton, a 6-foot-8 high school senior from Chicago who is one of the most highly regarded players in the country, worked this summer at the Chicago Board of Trade for an alumnus of Illinois. His mother also worked there. Illinois Coach Lou Henson insists their hiring was a coincidence.

"You know that's BS and I know that's BS," Knight said. "But if it was coincidence, fine. Put in that rule and coincidence or not, the kid can't go to that school."

Knight's suggestion has yet to be acted upon, although it may well be proposed to NCAA committees this year. Most of the other ideas are, at this point, simply that: ideas. Unless they are proposed to the NCAA or specific conferences, no action can be taken.

The issue of paying college athletes is already being considered by the NCAA and is on its agenda for the national convention in Houston next January.

In the case of the suggestion that schools' schedules be canceled as punishment, the NCAA already has the power to do that, although it happens rarely. Some, like Knight, feel such serious penalties are needed, but he is among those who do not believe such steps will be taken.

"I don't think the problem is ever going to be corrected," Knight said. "Certainly not as long as you have people like the president of Southern California (James H. Zumberge) coming out and, instead of saying he's sorry his school was cheating and he's going to clean it up, he bitches about the fact that UCLA got a less severe penalty.

"The same thing goes for the president of Clemson (Bill Lee Atchley). He was just as idiotic. Instead of saying the tail is wagging the dog and we have to do something about what has gone on here, he says everybody cheats.

"That's just not true. Everybody doesn't cheat. But a lot of people out there just don't give a damn. Until the presidents of universities all get together and say we have to do something, nothing will happen."

Both Zumberge and Atchley said, in response to Knight's comment, that they believed they had acted appropriately.

"We admitted we were wrong. We didn't contest the NCAA in any way," Zumberge said. "I did believe then and I believe now that the punishment in our case did not fit the crime.

"I think punishments now are quite severe. If you take away TV revenue in this day and age, you are really hurting a school."

Atchley said he believed Knight would feel differently about Clemson's actions "if he knew all the things we had done. Most of the actions I took were private. I did not make them public," he said. "If Mr. Knight had more knowledge, he would not make such a statement."

Atchley did concede that Clemson Coach Danny Ford was "wrong" to say that "everyone" cheats in college football nowadays. "That wasn't a good statement to make and saying others cheat is no excuse for cheating yourself," Atchley said.

North Carolina basketball Coach Dean Smith has also criticized college presidents who do not take action when their programs are put on probation.

"I said the president of Wichita State should be fired after they were put on probation for the third time in his tenure," Smith said. "It's so easy for people to say, 'They are wrong, this is wrong.' No one seems willing to say, 'We were wrong. We will take action.' "

This summer, when Curry said publicly that Georgia Tech was facing opponents who cheated, he was chastised by some as using cheating as a copout for a losing record. Curry points to people like Knight as proof that one does not have to cheat to win.

"Bobby Knight doesn't cheat. Joe Paterno doesn't cheat; they both win," Curry said. "What bothers me is that there are so many people who tacitly say it's okay to cheat. People are saying why make a fuss over it; everybody does it. That's like saying everybody robs banks and everybody cheats on their income taxes. That's just not true. There are a lot of good people out there who don't rob banks, don't cheat on their taxes and don't cheat in football and basketball.

"Sports are an important part of American life now, probably too important. But as long as they are going to be that important, let's try to keep it from getting completely ugly."

These are some of the more ugly revelations of recent weeks:

*Byers, shortly after the NCAA lost its exclusive control of football television rights, said publicly that 30 percent of the major NCAA football and basketball institutions were cheating "in a big way." He added that it might be time for the NCAA to consider an "open division," one that would almost endorse some form of professionalism.

*Mike Rozier, the 1983 Heisman Trophy winner, admitted that he accepted payments from an agent during his last season. Since then, several other players have admitted to taking payoffs. Rick Bennett, an agent in Washington who represents football players like Roy Green of the St. Louis Cardinals and Art Monk of the Washington Redskins, says most players taken in the first round of the NFL draft receive payments from an agent before finishing college football. Another agent, Leigh Steinberg, said this week that "at least one third" of the top college football and basketball players sign contracts with agents while playing.

*Byers said he agreed with Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps' contention of two years ago that basketball players were being bought for figures that at times reached $10,000 or $20,000. One agent, who asked not to be identified, said this week the figure for basketball players went as high as $100,000.

Jim Delaney, the commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference who was an NCAA investigator from 1974 to 1979, said he never heard those numbers during his years as an investigator. "You heard figures more in the $2,000 to $5,000 range," Delaney said. "But that was five years ago."

Delaney also said that by his best estimates, based on his experience, about 10 percent of the football and basketball players at major colleges are "bought."

"I would call 70 of the I-A schools in football truly major," Delaney said. "That means there are about 7,000 scholarship players. I would say perhaps as many as 700 of them are bought. In basketball, if you're talking about 3,500 players, I would say about 350 are bought. Those figures may be a little high, but not much from my experience, if at all."

Delaney is quick to point out that those numbers mean that 90 percent of the players involved in major collegiate sports do not cheat and are not bought.

Nevertheless, Delaney recently wrote to the NCAA infractions committee suggesting it consider more severe penalties than have been handed down recently. "My concern is that for the last few years we haven't distinguished between influenza and a cancer," Delaney said. "Maybe, what is now considered 'a three-year case' should be more than that, stiffer penalties."

The sentiment for stiffer penalties seems to be growing. "Instead of just taking away scholarships for two years or three years, take them away for four or five," said Maryland Athletic Director Dick Dull. "In the case of chronic cheaters, shut them down or put them on probation for five years."

Phelps, who was put down by many when he made his remarks two years ago, is succinct. "Less rules, tougher enforcement, tougher penalties," he said. "A lot of the rules now can't be enforced and are silly, anyway. Have a basic set of rules that cannot be violated and tell people that if they are, the punishment will be very, very severe."

Neinas, who is opposed to canceling schedules, agrees with that concept. "You should have 10 commandments and really enforce those hard," he said.

Knight, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Byers, feels the same way: "Set up the rules so they are clear and enforceable," he said. "Then, put Walter Byers in charge because he's smarter than all the college presidents put together.

"Don't make rules like you can't watch your kids play in September or limiting recruiting visits. That kind of thing should be up to the individual colleges. But if you have 10 scholarship players and one of them graduates in five years, you get one scholarship that year. If you get caught cheating, you lose your schedule or you lose all your home games or you lose all your scholarships and you can't be on television.

"If people in business, doctors, lawyers, whatever, ran their businesses the way recruiting is run, they would be in jail. Look at the Big Ten. They let Illinois (which is on football probation) play on television this season because it's 'essential' to the football package. How ludicrous is that? People keep saying they want to stop the cheating but they won't do anything about it."

In fact, some in college sports think that people like Byers, Knight, Phelps, Corrigan, Curry and all of those who cry for major changes, are overreacting.

"I would be the first one to say so if I thought there was cheating in this conference, but I don't believe there is any, anywhere," said Southern California football Coach Ted Tollner. "Certainly this school and others out here have paid dearly for mistakes in the past, but I believe we're clean now. When I hear about cheating, it's almost all second hand. You just don't know what is and isn't true."

As for stiffer penalties for those who are caught, Tollner said: "There has to be something before the death penalty. Canceling a schedule is too strong a penalty."

Even Curry, a basic supporter of more stringent penalties, thinks some of the suggested changes -- like Knight's proposal to take a scholarship away for each nongraduate in five years -- might not be perfect.

"At a school like Tech, you can have kids who are working hard but need more than five years to get a degree," Curry said. "I'm sure that's true at other schools, too. I don't mind tying scholarships to graduation, though, because there's a lot of easy schools out there not graduating anybody."

Still, everyone involved agrees that some changes must be made. "The pressures involved today are out of control at a lot of places," Corrigan said. "We have the (NCAA) presidents' commission now and that's good, but presidents are under pressure, too. In a lot of places, the Board of Trustees is appointed by the governor and they all want to get out there and whip old Siwosh U. Let's face it; there are places where the football coach has more power than the college president. That's got to change."

And Curry had one final thought: "Maybe the way to get people to understand how serious things are is to put it to them in the context of their own children. Ask them how they would feel if their son was bought for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars, sent to school for four years, used up by that school for those years and in return gets no education and leaves with nothing to show for their effort and time but a couple of bowl rings they can go out and hock.

"Next time somebody says, 'Yeah, well everybody does it,' ask them how they would like it if somebody did it to their son. Maybe, just maybe, they'll say, 'Oh, no, not my son; it won't happen to him.' But it does happen and it will happen, again and again and again."