Jamie Kuntz, a college football player at North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS), was caught over Labor Day weekend giving his boyfriend a kiss while they were alone in the pressbox at an away game in in Pueblo, Colorado. On the way home, the coach pulled Kuntz off the bus and confronted him.Unsurprisingly, Kuntz lied but then, while on the 15-hour trip home, admitted the lie and acknowledged he is gay and had indeed shared a kiss with his boyfriend. The next day, his coach kicked him off the team, supposedly, for kissing his boyfriend during the game, for lying to his coach about the kiss, for being a “distraction,” and for being “detrimental” to the team.
Kuntz’s coach, Chuck Parsons, made sure to mention Kuntz wasn’t being kicked off the football team — his only reason for attending that school — for being gay. But telling his coach a lie, that was a major infraction that could only be resolved by ending Kuntz’s college football career.
How is this coach’s behavior acceptable in modern-day America? How did the university not intervene on Kuntz’s behalf?
“The letter, which Kuntz shared with me, is signed by NDSCS Head Football Chuck Parsons, Dan Savage, yesterday, reported:
It reads in part: “The head coach reserves the right to dismiss any team member for any conduct that is deemed detrimental to the team. This includes, but is not limited to, any criminal charges or convictions; violations of school policies, NDSCS athletic policies, or NDSCS Wildcat Football policies… Lying to Coaches, Teachers, or other school staff [constitute a violation].” The letter continues: “This decision was arrived at solely on the basis of your conduct during the football game… and because you choose not to be truthful with when I confronted you about whom else was in the box with you.”
Coach Parsons seems to be anticipating charges of homophobia when he emphasizes that Kuntz is being kicked off the team “solely on the basis” of his conduct at the game and lying about it.
“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.”
Other members of the team, according to Kuntz, have been caught drinking, a violation of team rules; one member, a minor, was detained by the police after being found in a 21-and-over club. Some members of the team have “criminal charges and convictions,” according to Kuntz, both misdemeanors and felonies. Another player had a house party that was shut down by the police in Wapheton.
“Nothing happened to him,” says Kuntz. “He’s still on the team. He played on Saturday. I don’t feel that I should’ve been kicked off the team for this. It was a kiss. It was a mistake, but it was just a kiss. We weren’t making out.”
At least one member of the football team at NDSCS agrees with Kuntz. (This team member didn’t want to be quoted by name for fear of damaging his relationship with the coaching staff.) “I didn’t see anything during that game,” the team member told me in a phone interview, “but my teammates told me they saw Jamie up in the press box with another guy and that they were doing stuff. From what I hear they’re saying Jamie got kicked off the team for lying. But if he broke a team rule about lying then I think a suspension should’ve been the punishment and not getting kicked off the team.”
Savage’s report is extensive. There’s one more detail that sadly makes this story not very media-friendly. Dan notes:
One detail about Jamie Kuntz’ story makes it highly unlikely that he will become a poster child for young gay athletes: Kuntz’s boyfriend is 65 years old.
So, Jamie Kuntz is now facing homophobia and ageism. Which is a double-whammy of disgusting. Kuntz’s boyfriend’s age should have little to nothing to do with this story.
The obvious question here is, if all the details were the same, except Kuntz was kissing a 65-year old woman, he’d probably be hailed as a hero among his team, and probably by his coach.
There’s a lot more detail over at Savage’s Slog. Go read it.
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