For three days, the North Dakota State College of Science has been largely silent on why Jamie Kuntz was kicked off the team. The 18-year-old -- not out at the time -- was dismissed two days after he was seen kissing his boyfriend in the press box of the team's season opener in Colorado.
Kuntz was handling film duties since he was inactive recovering from a concussion. He was confronted after the game about kissing his boyfriend (who is 65) by Coach Chuck Parsons and later told he was dismissed for conduct detrimental to the team. Athletic Director Stu Engen told WDAY on Wednesday:
“My conversation with Coach Parsons, we didn't talk about other man's alleged to be 65 years of age. Our conversation consisted of ... if this was a heterosexual incident, would we come to the same conclusion, and Coach Parsons answer was yes. Mr. Kuntz simply and plainly failed to perform his duties as assigned and was an ongoing distraction to the game.”
The school also released this statement, with a quote from the school president:
Jamie Kuntz voluntarily withdrew from North Dakota State College of Science last week. Prior to his withdrawal, he was dismissed from the football team for a violation of team rules following an incident at a football game.
“All students and faculty must abide by College policies, and this one is very clear,” said John Richman, president of NDSCS.
Kuntz was sidelined with an injury and volunteered to film the game for the team. Instead, his conduct with his companion in the press box, which was ongoing and explicit in nature, drew complaints from numerous parents and players. When asked about the identity of his companion and his reason for accompanying Kuntz to the game, Kuntz falsely identified the companion as his grandfather. Kuntz later admitted that he had not told the truth and was then dismissed from the team.
In other words, instead of filming the game, Kuntz invited a companion into the location where he was supposed to be working and engaged in behavior that was a distraction to the team. When asked about the incident by his coach, Kuntz did not tell the truth about the identity of his companion and what happened, as he has since acknowledged. Based on this conduct, the football coach dismissed Kuntz from the team.
“Despite how this is being portrayed by some, Jamie’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with his dismissal from the football team,” Richman said. “NDSCS is a welcoming campus where individual differences are valued and respected.”
It should be noted that Kuntz withdrew only because he was kicked off the football team.
I have spoken with Kuntz several times since the story broke and he has been consistent in insisting that had he been kissing a woman (regardless of her age), he would still be on the team; it's a position I agree with. As he told Dan Savage, other players have stayed on despite more serious violations.
It has always seemed odd to me that he was dismissed instead of being given a suspension for a game or two. Initially, Kuntz lied about whom he was kissing, but that's understandable for an 18-year-old who was not out at the time. To use that and his alleged shirking of his duties seems like a convenient cover story. The team was getting blown out at the time he and his boyfriend kissed in the third quarter (they lost 63-17) and the best thing to do with the film would have been to burn it.
Kuntz has got a lot of attention for the story and is handling it well. He still hopes to play college football and had withdrawn from North Dakota State College of Science and is looking at other schools before reaching a final decision.