NORMAN — Just hours after Oklahoma football recruit Herman Mitchell was shot to death Friday in Houston, Adam Fineberg started raising money for Mitchell's family.
But after raising $4,500, enough to cover almost half the cost of Mitchell's funeral, Fineberg stopped. An OU compliance officer told him his actions would constitute an NCAA rules violation against the Sooners.
Now, Mitchell's mother likely will never receive that money.
That money is considered illegal financial assistance under NCAA rules because Mitchell's brother is a sophomore fullback at Westfield High School in Spring, Texas, and because Fineberg is an OU fan who attends Sooner football games and solicited donations through an OU fan Web site.
"I think it's wrong,” said Fineberg, an Oklahoma City native who graduated from Heritage Hall in 1995 and lives in Houston. "Mitchell's mom is a single mother, and I just wanted to help the family out.
"I was just starting to get it rolling, too.”
OU spokesman Kenny Mossman said the an official with the university's compliance office contacted Fineberg on Monday asking to him halt his fundraising efforts until the OU received a rules interpretation from the NCAA. That interpretation came Tuesday.
"This is not a permissible expense for OU or someone who could be construed as an OU supporter,” said Mossman, an associate athletic director for communications. "We're not trying to be the bad guys, but we have to play by their rules.”
OU could apply for a waiver that would allow Fineberg to resume his fundraising and allow the Mitchell's family to receive the money, an NCAA official said late Tuesday.
"We would consider that if the university chose to go down that avenue,” NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said.
Herman Mitchell, 17, was on his way to Westfield for a football scrimmage last Friday afternoon when a fight broke out between Mitchell and 19-year-old Emile "Rusty” Lewis over ownership of a dog, according to police.
Police said Lewis went to his apartment and returned with a rifle, shooting Mitchell several times and killing him.
Police have arrested Lewis and charged him with murder.
Coming into this season, Mitchell was regarded as one of the top high school football players in Texas.