POLL: Scandal Weighs Heavily on PSU Alumni

With the Sandusky trial set to begin, most Penn State grads admit to following the situation closely. They also express strong support for former football coach Joe Paterno and distrust for the school's Board of Trustees.

Penn State released the results of an independent alumni poll Thursday, and it includes feedback on the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the university last November as well as views on former PSU football coach Joe Paterno.

According to the poll results, the scandal is still weighing heavily on a vast majority of PSU graduates. Meanwhile, Paterno, who was fired in the wake of the scandal and died of lung cancer in January, remains a beloved figure to Penn Staters.

Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach accused of child sex abuse, and opening arguments in his trial are scheduled to begin Monday.

According to the poll, 59 percent of those surveyed are following the Sandusky situation “very closely.” Twenty-eight percent are following closely and 13 percent not closely or not at all. Only two percent claimed to not be following it at all.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with “1” being not at all and “10” being very closely, the mean score was a 7.4.

Meanwhile, 58 percent felt the university handled Paterno's dismal all or mostly wrong. Reasons ranged from a lack of due process to Paterno being fired over the phone to the school's Board of Trustees using Paterno as a scapegoat.

Only two percent of those surveyed listed Paterno's firing as a “RIGHT” action taken by the university. Eight-seven percent said the university should “publicly recognize Paterno for his years of service to Penn State.”

While Penn State grads continue to hold Paterno in high esteem, they are not nearly as fond of the Board of Trustees.

Only 13 percent of those surveyed said they completely trust the board. Forty-nine percent have a low degree of trust, including 20 percent who said they have no trust at all in the group.

The scandal has caused the majority of PSU grads surveyed to change their opinion of the school, too.

Forty-eight percent said they feel more negative toward their alma mater, while nine percent said they feel more positive. Forty-one percent said there was no change in their feeling.

Especially troubling for Penn State are the responses to a question of how recent events have impacted whether graduates will donate to the school. Nearly a third — 29 percent — said they are less likely to now than before.

And yet 82 percent of those surveyed said they continue to have a positive view of the university. And a vast majority — 80 percent — said they think Penn State will do "the right thing" for the alleged victims of the Sandusky scandal and their families.

The survey was conducted by StrategyOne May 8-20. A total of 1,282 people responded to it.

You can check out the entire survey here: http://alumni.psu.edu/about_us/2012-alumni-opinion-survey

Fight On State Top Stories