Jamie Kuntz, an 18-year-old linebacker from Dickinson, North Dakota, was kicked off the North Dakota College of Science's football team after he was spotted kissing his 65-year-old boyfriend during a game.
Coach Chuck Parsons ostensibly booted him for a violation of team rules, but Kuntz believes his sexuality played a role in Parsons' decision.
"I don't know if [Parsons is] homophobic," Kuntz told Yahoo. "I can't tell in his heart, but what happened, in my experience, I was getting cheated."
[jump] Kuntz's story was first reported by Dan Savage, who provides details about NDSCS' roadtrip to Pueblo, Colorado, for a game over Labor Day weekend:
Kuntz had a concussion and wasn't supposed to go to Pueblo but at the last minute Kuntz was tapped to film the game. Kuntz's boyfriend, who lives in Denver, met Kuntz in Pueblo and sat with him in the otherwise deserted press box while Kuntz filmed the game.The next day, Kuntz was called into a meeting with Parsons and dismissed from the team. Yahoo provides some details:
"We were getting destroyed," says Kuntz, "the game was a total blowout. And I guess I got bored and so I kissed my boyfriend and some of my teammates saw us."
After the game--just before a 15-hour bus ride back to North Dakota--NDSCS's head football coach, Chuck Parsons, pulled Kuntz off the bus and confronted him. Kuntz denied kissing the man with him in the press box [he initially told the coach the man was his grandfather] and he denied being gay. Kuntz was on Twitter for most of the bus ride back to Wapheton. He sent some tweets that alarmed his roommate--Kuntz hinted at being suicidal--and the police were called. After the police determined that he was not a suicide risk, Kuntz sent his coach a text message saying that he was gay and that he had kissed the man who was with him in the press box. Kuntz also apologized to his coach for lying.
Parsons gave Kuntz a letter outlining the reasons for his dismissal and cited the school's player's manual. In the letter, he wrote: "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, an All-Region player during his senior year in high school last year, left NDSCS after his meeting with Parsons and is hoping to transfer to a D-1 school. The University of Minnesota is reportedly one of the schools that showed interest in him coming out of high school, so a move to gay-friendly Minneapolis is a possibility.
Since getting kicked off the team, Kuntz has received an outpouring of support, including hang-in-there tweets from the NFL's two most prominent gay rights advocates, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. But as Savage notes, the age difference between Kuntz and his boyfriend complicates Kuntz's story, especially in a post-Sandusky world.
I'm angry too. Impulsively making out with your boyfriend in a press box isn't the best way for a gay college athlete to come out to his teammates. But Kuntz's impulsiveness--or Kuntz's recklessness--is understandable. He is a teenager. It's hard to feel anything but anger for Kuntz's boyfriend. The elder man's reckless disregard for his Kuntz's future, to say nothing of Kuntz's physical safety, is much harder to excuse.