Somehow at least one person was able to get into Death Valley, remove a protecting covering, and break off a piece of Howard’s Rock. And somehow he, she or they managed to do it undetected. The incident happened 10 days ago. Clemson confirmed the vandalism last night:
Howard’s Rock, the iconic fixture Clemson players rub prior to running down the hill during the football team’s entrance into Memorial Stadium, was vandalized sometime June 2nd or June 3rd. A small portion of The Rock was broken off of its pedestal after vandals broke the casing that protects the artifact.
“We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously,” said Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich. “Police are investigating.”
There was no damage to the pedestal that supports the rock.
According to Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret, the stadium was locked at the time the incident occurred which officials say was sometime in the middle of the night between June 2nd and June 3rd.
“They must have jumped over a fence,” Bourret said in an email. “It is a construction site at that side right now for improvements being made just outside the gate where the rock is.”
There are security cameras in Death Valley, but none of them are focused on Howard’s Rock. According to Bourret, there was nothing detected by the other cameras around the stadium either.
This isn’t your typical amateur hour get in and get out with a can of spray paint job. The person or persons responsible for this had to have scaled a fence with a sledge hammer or some other cumbersome tool capable of taking apart a rock. Then, after however long it takes to pry off a protective cover and break off a piece of rock, the vandal(s) managed to gather up whatever tools they used along with the piece of the rock they broke off and exit the stadium. Again, all of this happened without detection.
“I am sure Clemson police will investigate this thoroughly and hold the person accountable for this behavior,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said via a statement. “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.”