The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) lifted a ban on travel to North Carolina over that state's law limiting the rights of LGBT people.

The ban was imposed after North Carolina passed a law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their birth gender, rather than their gender identity.

A MnSCU statement late Thursday said the system was confident that North Carolina's law was being addressed through a Justice Department order that it violated civil rights and can't be enforced.

The MnSCU ban had caused some baseball coaches to worry that they might not be able to travel to national championship tournaments in North Carolina.

Their ban followed a similar directive from Gov. Mark Dayton to state employees.

If it would qualify, St. Cloud State, for example, could have been prevented from competing in the NCAA Division II baseball tournament if the ban had not been rescinded.

U vs. Indiana for first

The top two baseball teams in the Big Ten Conference will play a three-game series this weekend at Siebert Field, starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

The No. 19 Gophers are in first place (29-13, 11-3), one-half game ahead of visiting Indiana (26-16, 11-4). Both teams have nine conference games left.

Minnesota leads the conference in batting with a .332 average and fielding at .979. Indiana is second in ERA at 2.91.

Matt Fiedler and Austin Athmann of the Gophers are 1-2 in hitting in the Big Ten at .406 and .394, respectively. Kyle Hart is the Hoosiers ace. He is 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA.

Lynx win in preseason

After taking a 25-10 lead in the opening quarter, the Lynx held on to edge the New York Liberty 77-74 on Thursday in their first WNBA exhibition game at Columbia University.

Backup guard Renee Montgomery led the Lynx with 17 points. Starters Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles had 10 points apiece.

Sugar Rodgers, who was drafted by and played for the Lynx in 2013, led the Liberty with 22 points while Tina Charles has 10. New York's Shoni Schimmel missed two possible game-tying three-point shots in the final 16 seconds.

The Lynx shot 47.8 percent from the field, the Liberty 34.5. New York had a 26-24 rebound advantage, but the home team also committed 22 turnovers while the Lynx had only 15.

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve played her starters between 19 and 11 minutes, giving newcomers a chance to play. Rookie forward Bashaara Graves, the Lynx's second-round pick, had nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.

Prep star sidelined

Eden Prairie's JD Spielman, who drew a Division I scholarship offer as a lacrosse player before signing to play football at Nebraska, is out for the rest of the lacrosse season after a knee injury.

Spielman injured his right knee in a game on April 23 against Lakeville North. An MRI three days later showed a piece of his knee cap had broken off, according to his mother, Michelle.

He had surgery last Friday and will have his knee in a brace for several weeks. He started rehabilitation the day after surgery and is "working hard to get back healthy," she said.

An explosive running back who also played defense and special teams, Spielman scored 26 touchdowns in his final season. He was the Star Tribune's metro player of the year and received the Mr. Football award from the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.

Michelle said her son "didn't think twice'' about playing lacrosse after committing to play football at Nebraska. Spielman, who turned down a lacrosse scholarship offer from Ohio State, helped the Eagles win a state title in 2014.

He plans to report to Nebraska's first summer session on June 6 and finish his knee rehab with the school's training staff. Spielman expects to be ready for football practice in July, Michelle said.


New MIAC facilities

St. John's held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for Gagliardi Field, its multipurpose athletic facility in Collegeville, Minn. It will feature a full-sized, artificial-grass field and a seasonal dome. It will be used as a practice field for the school's varsity teams, as well as by intramural, recreational and club sports.

There will be another groundbreaking Friday at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., when it breaks ground on an outdoor sports complex scheduled to open Fall 2017. It will feature two soccer fields, two softball fields and three fields for club and intramural sports. At least one of the softball and soccer fields will be turf.


• The four-team, four-day NAHL Robertson Cup Championship will open Thursday at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina. The Wichita Falls Wildcats are the only team which has qualified so far.

• Caroline Ryba of the Gophers was named to the All-Big Ten first team in women's tennis. The sophomore was 18-12 at No. 1 singles and 13-4 in doubles.

• Junior third baseman Sam Macken of the Gophers was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 softball team. Her major is business and marketing education.

• Golfer Rachel Gray of Concordia (St. Paul) tied for 10th as an individual in the NCAA Division II Super Region 3 Championships this week in Axtell, Neb. Her finish advances her to the national tournament May 18-21 in Aurora, Colo.

• Saint John's senior wide receiver Josh Bungum of Paynesville, Minn., signed with the Cineplexx Blue Devils, a professional team in the Austrian and Central European Football Leagues.