Howard’s Rock damaged

Nikki Steele/ Clemson’s Howard Rock

One of college football’s most touted traditions has been vandalized.

Clemson University indicated Wednesday night university police are investigating damage done to Howard’s Rock, the famed fixture the Tigers touch on their way down the Hill before football games. All Clemson released at this time is that vandals broke into Memorial Stadium either June 2 (a Sunday) or June 3 (a Monday.)

That was the same weekend Clemson baseball was playing an NCAA regional in Columbia at South Carolina’s stadium, a regional won by the host Gamecocks. Youth football camps operated by Dabo Swinney and the Clemson coaching staff began last Wednesday.

A small portion of the rock was broken off and the glass casing was removed, but the pedestal itself was not damaged.

“We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich wrote in a statement. “Police are investigating.”

The week after South Carolina’s April 13 spring game, a painted Tiger Paw — Clemson’s longtime logo — was found painted on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Three years ago, Toomer’s Oaks, the famed trees Auburn fans rolled with toilet paper following victories for decades, were poisoned by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke following Auburn’s 2010 SEC championship victory. Updyke served 76 days in prison following a lengthy wait for his trial, and was released from his sentence Monday.

Howard’s Rock was unveiled as a part of Memorial Stadium after being brought to campus by a fan from Death Valley, Calif., on Sept. 24, 1966. It remains a focal point of Clemson’s celebrated pre-game ritual.

Clemson plays at South Carolina — a series the Gamecocks have won four straight years — on Nov. 30.

University police did not have a further statement beyond Radakovich’s comments, though a spokesperson said the department hoped to have additional information to released sometime today.