Was This College Football Player Kicked Off The Team For Being Gay?

It certainly seems like it.

James MacPherson / AP

Jamie Kuntz was a freshman linebacker at North Dakota State College Of Sciences. I say “was” because as of a week ago, he no longer plays football, nor attends college there, thanks to a kiss from his boyfriend.

Kuntz was not in uniform for the team’s first game of season since he had a concussion, so he was up in the pressbox filming the game. The 18-year-old’s 65-year-old boyfriend — more on that age difference later — joined him there. While the team was being thoroughly crushed by the powerhouse that is Pueblo, Colorado’s Snow College (NDSCS would lose 63-17), Kuntz kissed his boyfriend. Some of his teammates witnessed the sexy cross-generational pressbox smoochingkiss and reported it to their coach, Chuck Parsons.

On the trip home Parsons confronted Kuntz, who claimed the man was his grandfather. Later, in a fit of conscience, Kuntz confessed to the lie. As a result he was kicked off the team for “conduct deemed detrimental to the team.” That detrimental conduct, allegedly? Not gay kissing, but lying. Kuntz decided to leave school as a result.

According to USA Today, the freshman linebacker is calling bullshit.

“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.”

In the opposite of the usual progression, when I first heard about this story I didn’t think it was that clean-cut. After all, it happened during a game. I played a few years of serious high school football, and the idea that a player could get kicked off a team for kissing someone during a game (and then lying about it) doesn’t seem all that surprising. Mid-game kissing is a little disrespectful to the players who are playing (and losing). Maybe his coach is just strict about these things, I thought. Maybe it had nothing to do with him being gay, and had more to do with him hanging out with his significant other when he should have been paying attention. But then I read Dan Savage’s write-up of the story, which included this chestnut.

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.”

If that’s true, that’s pretty damning. It’s hard to make the argument that what Kuntz did is worse than any of those issues that have allegedly plagued the team, and it’s even harder to make that argument without being a homophobe. And though the fact that Kuntz is barely legal and his boyfriend is retirement age does seem icky and exploitative (at least to me), they didn’t do anything illegal, which is more than you can say about his teammates. I’m sorry. I mean, former teammates.

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