A concussion kept Jamie Kuntz from suiting up for his first American college football game. A kiss from his much-older boyfriend at that game led the freshman linebacker to be kicked off the team, he said.
North Dakota State College of Sciences acknowledges Kuntz was disciplined by the team, but says it wasn’t because he is gay. Football coach Chuck Parsons told Kuntz in a letter that he was removed from the team for lying about the kiss.
Kuntz, 18, and on a partial football scholarship, left the college in this month after his dismissal from the team.
“Football didn’t work out, so there was no reason to stay,” said Kuntz, who lives with his mother across the state in Dickinson.
Kuntz said he and his 65-year-old boyfriend were in the press box at the game against Snow College. Kuntz was videotaping the game for the team. His Wildcats were down by more than 40 points when “the kiss just happened,” he said. The team would eventually lose 63-17.
“People around here aren’t exposed to it,” Kuntz said of homosexuality. “People expect gays to be flamboyant, not football players.”
A teammate apparently saw the kiss and told coaches, Kuntz said. When Parsons confronted Kuntz on the bus ride back to North Dakota, Kuntz told him the man he kissed was his grandfather.
“I lied,” Kuntz said.
Later, he felt guilty about lying and came clean to his coach.
In a Sept. 3 dismissal letter obtained by The Associated Press, Parsons told Kuntz he was being ousted from the team under the “conduct deemed detrimental to the team” category outlined in guidelines in the team’s player’s manual. Parsons specifically noted the manual’s section on “lying to coaches, teachers or other school staff.”
“This decision was arrived at solely on the basis of your conduct during the football game; and because you chose not to be truthful with me when I confronted you about whom else was in the box with you,” Parsons wrote. “Any conduct by any member of the program that would cause such a distraction during a game would warrant the same consequences.”
Kuntz doesn’t believe he was dismissed just for lying.
“I know if it was a girl in the press box, or even an older woman, nothing would have happened,” he said. “If it was an older woman, I would have probably been congratulated for it from my teammates.”
School officials told the AP that they were investigating whether this was the first such instance of someone being kicked off the football team for lying.