(Reuters) - Fewer than half of Pennsylvania voters support renaming Penn State University's football stadium for legendary coach Joe Paterno, but a solid majority of college football fans in the state would back such a move, a poll released Friday showed.
The survey by Quinnipiac University found 46 percent of voters would back renaming of Penn State's Beaver Stadium to Joe Paterno Stadium, while 40 percent said they opposed it.
When the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points is taken into account, the number of people backing such a move still hovers just below half, it found.
By a ratio of 55 to 37 percent, however, college football fans back commemorating the stadium for the coach who guided the program for more than four decades.
Paterno was dismissed last fall for failing to respond adequately to allegations that his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing boys.
"There is lingering respect for Joe Paterno," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"One has to wonder: If the Sandusky scandal had never happened whether support for renaming the stadium would have approached 100 percent," he added.
Paterno died of lung cancer in January.
Sandusky, who has maintained his innocence, is scheduled to go on trial in May on 52 counts of child sexual abuse.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,256 registered voters from March 7 to 12 in live interviews over land lines and cell phones.
(Reporting By Dan Burns; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)