Clemson football literally lost a piece of its history earlier this month when Howard's Rock was struck by vandals.
According to a statement released by the university earlier this week, a piece of the iconic rock Clemson players have rubbed during the football team's entrance into Memorial Stadium since 1966 was broken off on either June 2 or 3.
"We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously," Athletic Director Dan Radakovich said. "Police are investigating."
The crime was discovered June 3 by two university employees, who had gone to the stadium to take photos of the rock for the marketing department, Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret told ESPN. He estimated that 15% of the rock had been removed.
Clemson fan Andrew Beeler tweeted a photo of the damage (see above).
Howard’s Rock was originally brought to campus by a fan from Death Valley, Calif., on Sept. 24, 1966. Then-coach Frank Howard is said to have started the tradition of rubbing it on Sept. 23, 1967, telling his players: "If you're going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you're not, keep your filthy hands off of it."
A piece of the left side of the rock was removed when a group of fans tried to steal the rock in 1992. Another attempt to vandalize the sacred stone was thwarted in 2004.
Neither incident prevented the Tigers from starting their home games in their customary fashion, and nor will this one, Bourret said.
"We will still have our tradition of rubbing the rock and running down the hill," he told ESPN.