If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


30% Have Favorable Opinion of Paterno, 51% Unfavorable

One-out-of-two Americans agree with Penn State’s decision to fire longtime football coach Joe Paterno following the disclosure of child sex abuse allegations against one of his former assistant coaches, but most don’t think the team should be denied a chance to play in a bowl game if it’s eligible.

However, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% of Adults now hold at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Paterno, the 84-year-old football legend who has been coaching at Pennsylvania State University since 1966. Fifty-one percent (51%) have an unfavorable view and 20% have no opinion. Those figures include 13% with a Very Favorable regard for him and 24% with a Very Unfavorable opinion. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty percent (50%) agree with the Penn State Board of Trustees’ decision to fire Paterno immediately because of questions about whether he responded properly to the child sexual abuse allegations against former coach Jerry Sandusky. Paterno had previously announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Twenty-eight percent (28%) disagree with the decision to fire the coach immediately, while 23% are not sure about it.

Still, only 18% of adults believe that Penn State should be prohibited from participating in any college football bowl games this year because of the child sex abuse scandal. Sixty-eight percent (68%) think Penn State should not be barred from any bowl games this season. Fourteen percent (14%) aren’t sure.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that child sex abuse is a serious problem in the country today, and just eight percent give Penn State officials positive marks for their initial response to the allegations against Sandusky.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls).  Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on November 10-11, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Want to read more?

Become a Rasmussen Reader to read the article

Have an account?

Log In

Become a Reader


Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.