STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The NCAA’s imposition of crippling sanctions against Penn State has provoked something of a backlash in Pennsylvania, where more than four in 10 adults say the governing body punished the school too severely over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, according to a new poll.

Forty-four percent of Pennsylvania adults view the NCAA penalties as too severe, 33 percent call them appropriate and 14 percent say they’re not tough enough, according to a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday.

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Opposition to the NCAA sanctions rose above 50 percent among Pennsylvania residents with Penn State ties.

“The NCAA smackdown of Penn State goes too far, most Nittany Lions lovers feel,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

The same poll found that 60 percent of Pennsylvania adults say that major colleges and universities should place less importance on their athletic programs.

The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, imposed a multi-year bowl ban, invalidated 112 wins and took away future scholarships in the wake of a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that accused late coach Joe Paterno and top administrators of concealing child sex abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago.

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The retired defensive coordinator was convicted in June of molesting 10 boys, some of them on campus. He awaits sentencing.

The unprecedented NCAA penalties have stirred an outcry among some Penn State alumni who say they were based on a flawed report by Freeh. An alumni group formed in the wake of the scandal is exploring a court challenge, although its legal standing isn’t clear.

The university leadership, which acquiesced to the penalties, has said the alternative would have been a complete ban on playing games.

The Quinnipiac poll of 1,494 people was taken July 24-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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