Famous Howard's Rock at Clemson vandalized - WNEM TV 5

Famous Howard's Rock at Clemson vandalized

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Howard's Rock damaged at Clemson University. (June 12, 2013/FOX Carolina) Howard's Rock damaged at Clemson University. (June 12, 2013/FOX Carolina)
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Clemson University Athletics Department said Howard's Rock was vandalized.

Officials said the iconic fixture that football players rub prior to running down the hill before football games was vandalized sometime between June 2 and June 3.

A small portion of the rock was broken off its pedestal after vandals broke the casing that protects the famous fixture. Howard's Rock sits at the entrance to Memorial Stadium. 

"We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously," said Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich. "Police are investigating."

FOX Carolina spoke with Clemson University Police Chief Johnson Link about whether the damage was caught on security cameras and he said he could not comment about their security plans but did say, "We have put some additional plans in place."

While Link would not comment on the security cameras to FOX Carolina, Tigernet writer David Hood told us something different. Hood said Link told him they have no video to work with and hope people will call in with tips.

SLIDESHOW: Before and after photos of Howard's Rock

Link said the damage was discovered by an athletics department employee about 2:30 p.m. on June 3. He said the last time someone saw the rock and it was OK was on June 2 about 4 p.m. when a football camp took pictures beside it.

"We believe someone has info that will help us with this investigation," Link said.

He also said they believe the vandal planned the act and it was not a spurt of the moment decision. Link said the vandal could face charges including trespassing and malicious damage to property.

FOX Carolina spoke with David Wilkins, Chairman of Clemson's Board of Trustees and former U. S. Ambassador to Canada, who said he learned about the damage on Tuesday and was briefed by Radakovich about it on Wednesday.

Wilkins said Radakovich and Clemson University President Jim Barker are working together to increase security and prevent this in the future. He said they will find who did this and prosecute them accordingly.

"This will never happen again," Wilkins said.

Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney issued the following statement about the vandalism:

"It is very disappointing that someone would disrespect our unique tradition to this extent. It is one of the iconic images of the game.

"I am sure Clemson police will investigate this thoroughly and hold the person accountable for this behavior. Thankfully, most of Howard's Rock is still intact and we will do what is necessary to protect it going forward.

"I know our coaches and players look forward to rubbing Howard's Rock, running down the hill, and furthering one of the great traditions of college football when we open the season against Georgia on August 31."

Current and former Clemson athletes and students took to Twitter about the vandalism. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins retweeted user Hanna Solesbee's tweet, "Someone's pissed off me and 80,000 of my closest friends #howardsrock."

Sophomore pitcher Daniel Gossett tweeted, "Talk your trash, tweet your little heart out about us, but don't mess with one of the greatest traditions at Clemson. #HowardsRock."

Howard's Rock was named for Coach Frank Howard. It was brought to Clemson from Death Valley, CA, by 1919 alumnus S.C. Jones.

The rock was first placed at the top of "The Hill" on Sept. 24, 1966. Then on Sept. 23, 1967, Howard told his players that if they would give 110 percent, they could have the privilege of rubbing the rock in a game against Wake Forest. The Tigers won 23-6.

Howard's Rock has been featured in the game day opening video that airs on the stadium jumbotron right before the team rubs the rock and runs down The Hill, featuring Frank Howard saying "If you're not going to give 110 percent, then keep your filthy hands off my rock."

(Watch the Clemson Football Hill Intro video posted by Clemson Athletics on YouTube in 2010 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCLt6VPudw).

Officials said there was no damage to the pedestal that supports the rock.

Anyone with information about the damage to Howard's Rock is asked to call CUPD at 864-656-2222.

Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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