FINDLAY - The key word is listen.
At this point, it is nothing more than that: listening.
Thursday, administrators from Hopewell-Loudon and Calvert met with the administrators from the schools in the Blanchard Valley Conference to see if the respective schools would be a fit, if the BVC chooses to expand.
And right now, it's just that: a big if.
The pending departure of Carey, Mohawk and Seneca East in 2014 for the Northern 10 League has left the Midland Athletic League with nine schools, only five of which have football which play in the MAL. St. Wendelin plays an independent football schedule.
However, three of those remaining five football schools met Thursday at the Hancock Educational Service Center with the BVC administrators: Calvert, Hopewell-Loudon and North Baltimore. Ada - it plays in the Northwest Conference - was also at the informational meeting.
The BVC sent out a letter to schools within a 25-mile radius of Findlay in February and these four were the ones who said they would be interested in listening to what the BVC had to offer.
"You hate to put all the emphasis on football," Hopewell-Loudon athletic director Steve Suter said. "Football, though, is your main revenue sport and in order to make athletic departments work, you have to have a stable football situation."
One of the critical elements to remember though is the BVC hasn't even decided if it will expand. At this point, discussions are very preliminary.
The athletic directors from Hopewell-Loudon and Calvert stressed that as well.
"Anyone who thinks they know what is going to occur is being disingenuous," Calvert AD Scott Brickner said. "They're going to take that info back to their boards of education and their boards are going to vote on extending an invitation to each of the four schools."
Suter said nothing has changed.
"Until something happens, we're part of the MAL. The nine remaining schools are part of the league," he said. "Everybody is looking out for their own interests. ... The BVC is still in exploratory phases. There's been no decision on their part what so ever."
Suter said when Carey, Mohawk and Seneca East announced their departure, the remaining schools were asked to work on keeping the league together.
"Each school formulated a list of schools they would be interested but nothing came of it," Suter said. "(None of the potential schools) at this point was willing to do anything. ... Our first choice would have been to get something done with the MAL."
The BVC is a 10-school league: Arcadia, Arlington, Cory-Rawson, Hardin Northern, Leipsic, Liberty-Benton, McComb, Pandora-Gilboa, Van Buren and Vanlue. A 75 percent approval is required before any school could be added to the league, so eight of the 10 schools would have to approve adding a school.
Each of the four schools that came for the informational meeting were given 15 minutes to present what they could bring to the league, ask any questions about the league and answer any question the BVC administrators had.
From here, the respective BVC schools will take the list of four schools back to their respective boards of education to discuss the merits of each school and whether they want to extend the invitation to a school to join the league. This is not an all or nothing proposal - each school is being considered individually.
If an invitation is extended, then that school would need to take the matter to its own school board to see if it would accept the offer.
While it sounds like a lengthy process, it's a case of all parties doing their due diligence and making no hasty decisions are being made. That being said, Brickner expects a decision from the BVC by the end of the May.
"You're looking at a 2-year window (to get out of a current league contract)," he said. "That's why you should see this done by the end of May. You have to give their board and our board a reasonable chance to deliberate, if (expansion) is the way they decide to go."
He said the BVC and MAL have a lot of things in common.
"The BVC is obviously a lot of similar schools of similar size. We have established relationships with those schools. The drive isn't far and the gates we've had from those schools when we've played have been good," Brickner said. "The MAL has been a competitive league for a long time. And the BVC has been as well."
"I think the BVC is very comparable is the MAL," he said. "Our first choice is to do something or still do something with the MAL."
One thing the BVC doesn't have is a wrestling or cross country league championship. All four of those prospective schools have both sports and would bring enough schools with the sport for those championships to contested.
Brickner said a lot of "what ifs" have been asked of him in recent months.
"I've had people ask me: 'What would have happened if Carey, Mohawk, and Seneca East had not departed for the N10?' Well, we're probably not talking about this but you can't go back in time," Brickner said. "People have been on pins and needles and everyone is thinking that the decision was going to be made today. It's a long way away at this point. ... These are not easy decisions and I've had a lot of sleepless nights. My stomach has been churning over this."