Freshman linebacker Jamie Kuntz says he was kicked off the North Dakota State College of Science football team because his boyfriend kissed him during a game, a charge the school disputes.
Kuntz, 18, said he and his 65-year-old boyfriend were in the press box at a game against Snow College in Pueblo, Colo., on Sept. 1. Kuntz was videotaping the game for the team when “the kiss just happened,” he said.
The school says 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.
A teammate apparently saw the kiss and told coaches. 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.
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 the school’s reason for kicking him off the team.
“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.”
Other behavior the player’s manual says could lead to dismissal includes criminal violations, fighting and repeated absences or tardiness to class. Richman said he believes Kuntz’s case was handled “fairly and consistently” by the athletic department.
“I’m very confident that with the information that’s been provided to me by our football coach, Chuck Parsons, by our athletic director, Stu Engen, that the thought process, the facts that were reviewed, have led them to an appropriate and the right decision in this case,” school President John Richman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.