After news of the incident spread, NDSCS on September 11 issued an official statement, saying:
“Jamie Kuntz is no longer enrolled at the North Dakota State College of Science because he voluntarily withdrew. While a student at the college, Kuntz was a member of the football team. Prior to his withdrawal, he was dismissed from the team for a violation of the football team rules, which are set forth below.”
The rules, which you can see here, do include “Lying to Coaches, Teachers, or other school staff.” The school has so far refused to comment on why other players who apparently violated the rulebook’s more serious stipulations–such as “Criminal Violations”–have not been dismissed.
However, drawing conclusions from this incident is complicated by several factors, not least of which is the age gap between Kuntz and his partner. While, at 18, Kuntz is amply over the legal age of consent, the ghost of the Penn State scandal may well have played a part, something that commentators Dan Savage and Cyd Zeigler, the latter of OutSports, have also mentioned.
This, to be clear, is not to suggest any wrongdoing on the part of Kuntz’ partner, or to excuse any homophobia if there was such, but rather to say that in order to discern if their was any anti-gay feeling, a great deal of factors would have to be considered.
What may be of interest is that prior to this incident Kuntz was not out to his family or many other people. With this perspective, Kuntz’ lying about the incident to his coach does not seem as straightforward as simply trying to dodge getting into trouble and rather more symptomatic of a fear over facing anti-gay sentiment if he did come out. Indeed, Kuntz is quoted as saying that he only came out to his mom because of this incident.
Due to the tangle of threads in this story I do not feel as comfortable as some in portioning out charges of homophobia, but what I can say is that it seems sad the administration would not use its discretion — apparently used before to not throw out other members of the team who had done far worse thank Kuntz — to consider the circumstances around why Kuntz might have lied about the incident. This case also speaks to the wider issues surrounding sports and homophobia where gay teammates may feel unable to be honest about their sexuality for fear of how their team might react.
As noted above Kuntz has now left North Dakota State College of Science and is currently back home with his mother. He still plans to follow his dream to play professional football.
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