Jamie Kuntz, a freshman linebacker at the North Dakota State College of Sciences, was recovering from a concussion over Labor Day weekend, so rather than being on the field with the rest of the Wildcats football team he was in the press box, filming the game. But he wasn’t alone: the 18-year-old sneaked in a few kisses with his much older boyfriend, who was visiting during the game.
And it was that display of affection, Kuntz says, that will now keep him off the field for good. Just two days after the incident, Wildcats coach Chuck Parsons handed Kuntz a dismissal notice.
The reason, according to the document obtained by the Associated Press, was for lying to coaches. This is true: when coach Parsons confronted him about the kiss, Kuntz said he was kissing his grandfather. That, also, wasn’t too far-fetched: Kuntz’s boyfriend is 65 years old.
At the time, only a handful of close friends knew that he was gay, he admitted to ABC News. So he lied, because “that’s a lot to unload on somebody on a question like that. I was kind of scared I would get kicked off if I told him the right answer.”
But the wrong answer got him booted as well. Kuntz said he soon admitted who was in the press box with him, but after a meeting with Parsons he was dismissed for exhibiting “conduct deemed detrimental to the team.” The letter specifically mentions a clause in the team’s code of conduct that forbids “lying to coaches, teachers or other school staff.” It further explains that Parsons had made his decision “because you chose not to be truthful with me when I confronted you about whom else was in the box with you.” But Kuntz believes that’s not the whole story.
”I know if it was a girl in the press box, or even an older woman, nothing would have happened,” he told the AP. ”If it was an older woman, I would have probably been congratulated for it from my teammates.”
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The North Dakota State College of Sciences has stood behind Parsons’ decision, arguing that the coach has final say and that they saw nothing in his judgment they needed to overrule. “[The] thought process, the facts that were reviewed, have led them to an appropriate and the right decision,” school president John Richman told the AP. He affirmed that other students had been terminated from the football team for various reasons.
And though the incident had repercussions for Kuntz’s football career, he hopes his story doesn’t scare away others who want to come out. Kuntz has since left the junior college in Wahpeton, N.D., where he had a scholarship, and is looking to transfer to the University of Colorado or the University of Minnesota, he told the Huffington Post.
Though maybe he’ll think twice about any further public displays of affection. “My boyfriend felt really bad that it happened,” Kuntz told ABC News. “We both should have known. Anyone can get caught in the moment.” Worse, his team didn’t even win that night. The Wildcats lost to Snow College 63-17.