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Update: MN college sports teams are free to travel to North Carolina again

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The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has lifted a college sports travel ban to North Carolina that it instituted just days earlier.

The ban was imposed in response to North Carolina's law requiring transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their biological sex, rather than their gender identity.

MnSCU lifted the travel ban Thursday evening after an announcement from the U.S. Justice Department that North Carolina's legislation violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act and ordered the state to remedy the violation.

"In light of the intervention from the U.S. Justice Department, the presidents of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are confident that the deplorable discrimination embedded in North Carolina's legislation is being addressed. Therefore, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have lifted their ban on travel to North Carolina."

The ban, put in place as a statement of opposition against North Carolina's bathroom law, was being "reconsidered" by the presidents, Gov. Mark Dayton had said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice ruled the new law unconstitutional on Wednesday, putting North Carolina at risk of losing "hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding" if the law isn't revoked, WSOC TV reports.

2 teams could have missed postseason

The decision by MnSCU was drawing a little heat as North Carolina was scheduled to host the upcoming Division II College World Series and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III championship.

Had MnSCU presidents kept the ban in place, it could end the season and crush dreams for state powers St. Cloud State (36-6) and Minnesota State-Mankato (29-14) – both squads are in the hunt to make the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Coaches at both schools spoke up about the ban earlier this week.

“Whether it’s our guys or Duluth or Mankato, whatever guys get an opportunity to play in the World Series, you just hope you don’t take that opportunity away from young men that have worked hard since they were 5, 6 years old," St. Cloud State head coach Pat Dolan told the Star Tribune.

Minnesota State coach Matt Magers called the ruling "unfortunate" and added that it "should be about the student-athlete," according to the Mankato Free Press.

Chances of a MN team making it?

To reach the College World Series a team needs to win the Central Regional, which takes place May 19-23.

The Central Region is made up of 41 teams from three conferences: Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC), Mid-America Athletic Association (MIAA), Great American Conference (GAC).

But only eight teams are invited to the Regional tournament. Three conference tournament champions receive automatic bids and the field is rounded out with five at-large teams, according to the NSIC.

St. Cloud State

  • National rank: 3
  • Central Region rank: 1
  • Against the competition: Combined 3-0 against Mankato and UMD.

They're a lock to make the Central Region tournament so all they have to do is win it. The Huskies were ranked No. 1 in the country last season before bowing out to Henderson State in the opening round of the Regional.

Minnesota State-Mankato

  • National rank: unranked
  • Central Region rank: 6
  • Against the competition: 0-1 against SCSU, 1-3 against UMD

Their regional ranking bodes well for their chances of making the Regional tourney, but they could do themselves a favor by winning the NSIC tournament for an automatic bid.

Minnesota-Duluth

  • National rank: 16
  • Central Region rank: 2
  • Against the competition: 3-1 against Mankato and 0-2 against SCSU.

They're likely a lock to make the Regional tournament so, like St. Cloud State, all they need to do is win it.

Southwest Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Winona State and Minnesota State-Moorhead are also impacted (at the DII level) by the travel ban, but SCSU and MSU appear to have the best chances to reach Cary, North Carolina, for the late-May national tournament.

The NSIC Tournament is next week in St. Cloud.

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