Clemson makes arrest in Rock case
Clemson University police arrested an 18-year-old in connection with vandalism to Howard's Rock and charged him with one felony and one misdemeanor.
Micah Rogers of Pisgah Forest, N.C., was charged with felony malicious injury to animals or personal property valued at more than $2,000 but less than $10,000 and misdemeanor trespassing.
Howard's Rock, the iconic fixture Tigers football players rub before entering Memorial Stadium, was vandalized June 2. The protective casing was destroyed and a chunk of the rock was chipped away.
Capt. Eric Hendricks said the vandalism was captured partially by video surveillance cameras. A witness also identified the suspect.
The broken portion of the rock has not been recovered, and the investigation is ongoing.
Rogers appeared in Clemson University Municipal Court on Friday morning and was released on personal recognizance bond of $5,470.
Hendricks said Rogers does not have any official ties to Clemson, but he does have a Tigers sticker on the glass of his truck and there was Clemson memorabilia in his home.
"I'll make you draw your own conclusions with that," Hendricks said.
Howard's Rock has been a fixture for Clemson football since the late 1960s when the stone was brought to campus from Death Valley, Calif., by Samuel C. Jones, a close friend of then-coach Frank Howard. The coach had little use for it until school booster Gene Willimon affixed to a pedestal and placed it at the entrance of Memorial Stadium.
Legend has it that during the 1967 season Howard told his players if they didn't want to give maximum effort they should "keep your filthy hands off of my rock." Ever since, Tiger players gather at the pedestal and rub the rock for good luck before rushing down the hill for games.
It left for a two-month period before the 2000 season when John Fernandez's granite sawing company worked to fit it on a new pedestal. Fernandez was a 1969 Clemson graduate who said the rock was only out of his sight while he slept. He even held a cookout with the rock as the guest of honor.
The rock sits on a black granite base with the inscription, "Howard's Rock. From Death Valley, CA, to Death Valley, SC."
Former Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis said the power of the rock comes from knowing how hard others who stood there before you worked to make the Tigers a success. "The power comes from the individual touching the rock. You understand the numerous athletes that paid the price for you to be there," said Davis, part of the Clemson's 1981 national champions and now a football administrator for his alma mater.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said the school has increased security around the rock to prevent future vandalism. He believed Clemson fans will sleep easier knowing the school was able to catch a perpetrator.
"On behalf of the athletic department and the football coaches and players, I want to thank the Clemson University Police Department, the State Law Enforcement Division and the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor's Office for acting in a swift, thorough manner with regards to the vandalism to Howard's Rock," Radakovich said in a statement. "We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in this case."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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