WAHPETON, N.D. — A college freshman football player in North Dakota said he was kicked off the team after creating a “distraction” because he a kissed his much-older boyfriend.
Jamie Kuntz, 18, a freshman linebacker at North Dakota State College of Sciences in Wahpeton, N.D., said he was pulled from team bus on Sept. 1 by Coach Chuck Parsons, and questioned about a “distraction” that had occurred in the press box during their game in Pueblo, Colo.
According to a report in Yahoo Sports, Kuntz had been injured much of fall camp and had only practiced a couple days prior to the trip. So, the coaching staff asked him to film the game from the press box.
While in the press box, Kuntz invited his 65-year-old boyfriend, who lives in Colorado, to join him to watch the game.
During the second half of the 63-17 blowout, Kuntz took a minute away from the camera to kiss his boyfriend. The kiss was caught by some of Kuntz’s teammates and word started to spread.
Up until that point, Kuntz had hidden the fact that he was gay.
A teammate apparently saw the kiss and told coaches, Kuntz said, and when Parsons confronted him on the bus ride back to North Dakota, Kuntz said the man he kissed was his grandfather. “I lied,” Kuntz said.
Later, Kuntz said he felt guilty about lying — he said eventually came clean with his coach when the team got back to Wahpeton, and apologized for lying. Two days later, Kuntz was cut from the team.
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:
“Your actions on the evening of 9/1/2012, while representing NDSCS and the NDSCS football program, reflected poorly on the program. Your decisions and conduct on the night in question clearly fall into the ‘Conduct deemed detrimental to the team’ category.
Your actions/conduct during the game was a distraction to your teammates who were looking to the press box as the game was being played. 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.
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 cut from the team simply for lying, and believes it’s because of his sexual orientation. He said players on the team had committed infractions such as underage drinking and fighting, which he considered more egregious offenses, and were not dismissed.
“It’s ludicrous to say Jamie’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with his release from the team,” said Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com, the online gay sports community.
“Kissing someone during a game isn’t a distraction unless it’s a ‘gay kiss.’ And even if it were a distraction, a slap on the wrist is more than enough to get the point across. Kicking him off the team for such a minor offense comes from one place and one place only: homophobia,” said Zeigler.
Kuntz added, “I know if it was a girl in the press box, or even an older woman, nothing would have happened … if it was an older woman, I would have probably been congratulated for it from my teammates.”