CLEMSON — Howard’s Rock, the iconic stone Clemson University players rub for luck before running down the hill during the football team’s entrance to Memorial Stadium, has been vandalized.
The rock was damaged sometime June 2 or June 3, the university’s athletics department said in a prepared statement released Wednesday.
Named for former Coach Frank Howard, the white flint rock was brought to Clemson from Death Valley, Calif., by university alumnus S.C. Jones. According to the university, the rock was placed on a pedestal at the top of the hill on Sept. 24, 1966. Before a game against Wake Forest on Sept. 23, 1967, Howard told his players that if they would give 110 percent, they could rub the rock. The Tigers won that game 23-6.
The rock has remained at the top of the hill for decades since. Tigers rub it for good luck before each home game.
“We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously,” athletics director Dan Radakovich said. “Police are investigating.”
The vandalism was reported to police June 3.
According to the police report, “the Plexiglas cover was missing from Howard’s Rock and ... a large piece of the rock was missing.”
The pedestal that the rock sits on was not damaged.
The plastic cover was found at a nearby gate, according to the police report.
Two university employees who reported the damage told police that they had touched the pedestal, but had not touched the cover. Those employees told police that they had picked up several pieces of the rock and part of the lock from the case meant to secure it.
Students attending a Dabo Swinney Football Camp for youth had their pictures taken at the rock June 2. That activity ended around 4 p.m., according to the police report.
Police lifted a partial fingerprint off the rock’s pedestal.
Police are still assessing the estimated cost of the damage done to the rock.