(CBS News) Less than half of Pennsylvanians say the NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal were too severe, according to a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday.
The poll found that 44 percent of respondents thought it was too severe for the association to impose on the football program a multi-year bowl ban, the loss of 112 wins, a $60 million fine and a reduced number of future scholarships. By contrast, 33 percent of those polled said they thought the penalties were appropriate, and another 14 percent said they weren't severe enough.
The university leadership said the alternative could have been a complete ban on playing games, and has acquiesced to the penalties.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including attacks on boys inside athletics facilities at Penn State, where he played college football and became a successful defensive coach under the late Joe Paterno.
Households with a former Penn State graduate or a current attendee were more critical than others of the sanctions: a slight majority of 52 percent said the penalties were too severe.
Nevertheless, a majority of Pennsylvania residents think that major colleges and universities should place less importance on their athletic programs. Just 33 percent don't think so. Pennsylvania residents with college degrees are even more likely to think there should be less importance placed on athletic programs at that level - 70 percent think so, compared to 57 percent of those who don't have college degrees.
Even a majority of those who think the NCAA sanctions on Penn State were too severe still said there should be less importance placed on college athletics.