CLEMSON, S.C. (WACH) - Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney says he will not let the recent vandalism of Howard's Rock at Memorial Stadium ruin one of the most recognizable traditions in college football.
The iconic rock that Clemson players rub before running down the hill during the team's pre-game entrance was vandalized between June 2 and 3, according to university officials.
A roughly fist-sized portion of the rock was broken off when someone pried off the rock's protective casing.
"It is very disappointing that someone would disrespect our unique tradition to this extent. It is one of the iconic images of the game," said Swinney. "I am sure Clemson police will investigate this thoroughly and hold the person accountable for this behavior."
The school's administration has already made clear it is taking an aggressive approach to the situation.
"We take vandalism, especially of such an important part of our history, very seriously," said Clemson athletics director Dan Radakovich in a statement. "Police are investigating."
Clemson University police said Thursday the vandal or vandals could face a multitude of charges including petit larceny, malicious injury to state property, trespassing, larceny and malicious entry.
Officials add that Memorial Stadium has surveillance cameras to aid them in the investigation, but none of those cameras are focused on Howard's Rock.
Swinney says this month's act of vandalism will not take anything away from the team's pre-game tradition.
"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," said Swinney.
This is the second instance of vandalism focused on a university in South Carolina this year. Back in April, an orange Clemson Tiger paw was spraypainted on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Outside the University of South Carolina stadium, two of the Cockabooses used for tailgating on game days, were also vandalized with the words "Go Tigers" written in orange spray paint and another one was tagged with an orange tiger paw.
No updates have been released on the university's investigation into that incident.