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 per cent of respondents support the football coach's firing, down from 55 per cent in November.

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

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

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

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 co-ordinator 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 three percentage points.

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