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Joe Paterno Firing: Poll Shows Dropping Support For Penn State Decision

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A man kneels in prayer near a statue of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in State College, Pa. Paterno's family along with former players and assistant coaches made their way Wednesday to a campus spiritual center for the revered coach's funeral service, a moment of private mourning during a week in which thousands from Penn State were saying goodbye. Paterno died Sunday, Jan. 22. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A man kneels in prayer near a statue of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in State College, Pa. Paterno's family along with former players and assistant coaches made their way Wednesday to a campus spiritual center for the revered coach's funeral service, a moment of private mourning during a week in which thousands from Penn State were saying goodbye. Paterno died Sunday, Jan. 22. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Support for the decision by Penn State trustees to fire the late Joe Paterno is falling, according to a national poll released Thursday.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll indicated that 42 percent of respondents support the football coach's firing, down from 55 percent in November.

Forty percent said he should have been allowed to retire after decades as coach, up from 31 percent in November.

Nearly two-thirds said Paterno's legacy has been tarnished, while about 18 percent did not think so.

The poll also asked which news story people were paying most attention to. The economy was first, at 40 percent; followed by the Republican race for the presidential nomination, 32 percent; the Super Bowl, 17 percent; and problems in the Middle East, 6 percent.

Trustees fired Paterno in November, citing his failure to go to police after getting a graduate assistant's eyewitness account of alleged child sex abuse by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in the football team showers.

Sandusky awaits trial on 52 criminal counts for alleged sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period, and denies the allegations. Paterno died of lung cancer Sunday and was memorialized Thursday in a massive gathering at Penn State's basketball arena.

Pollsters surveyed 1,108 people across the country. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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