Jerry Sandusky Scandal

Poll: NCAA sanctions on Penn State too severe

Pennsylvania residents think universities should downplay the importance of athletics, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy with the sanctions the NCAA leveled at Penn State.

According to a Quinnipiac poll of Pennsylvania residents, 44 percent said the penalties are too severe, compared with 33 percent who think they’re appropriate and another 14 percent who don’t think they’re severe enough. Eight percent polled said they didn’t know how to answer the question.

That response varied by age, with 38 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds saying the penalties are too severe, compared with 50 percent of those 55 and older.

The poll also found that 60 percent of Keystone state residents think major colleges and universities should place less importance on athletic programs. Younger and older people had different perspectives on that question as well. While  64 percent of those 35 and older think athletics should be downplayed, only 49 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds support that.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,494  Pennsylvania adults in cooperation with CBS News and The New York Times. The poll has a 2.5 percent margin of error.

It follows the NCAA issuing sanctions against Penn State including a $60 million penalty, four year bowl game ban and drop in the number of scholarships that can be issued.

Many alumni and students thought the sanctions were punishing the wrong people.

Daniel Byrd, president of the Penn State Alumni Association’s greater Pittsburgh chapter, said at the time the NCAA penalties were announced that he expected major sanctions, but thought NCAA President Mark Emmert had overstepped.

“However this was overkill,” Byrd said. “Total grandstanding by the NCAA and Emmert who have never had any credibility. I agree with the $60 million going to children’s organizations ...  But the four year bowl (ban) and massive scholarship reductions only hurt current players and students who need grants.”

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @AnneDanahy