The newly formed Northern Buckeye Conference has extended invitations to both Elmwood and Fostoria high schools.
Each school had submitted letters of interest to join, according to NBC commissioner Larry Jones.
The conference, which will begin competing in the 2011-12 school year, currently includes six schools - Eastwood, Genoa, Lake, Otsego, Rossford and Woodmore.
Rossford will exit the Northern Lakes League at the end of the 2010-11 school year, and the other five will vacate the Suburban Lakes League at the same time, making that league, which was formed in 1972, defunct.
Elmwood, also an SLL member, and Fostoria have been asked to respond to the invitations by Aug. 31. Jones said the invitation was not contingent upon both schools joining together.
"If just one of them joins," Jones said, "we'll have seven teams and we will try to get an eighth team at a later time."
For Fostoria, the move from its current membership in the Northern Ohio League to the NBC seems likely. Fostoria athletic director Aaron Weidner declined to comment about his school's possible decision, but did confirm that Fostoria did not express interest in joining any other league. He said the school board will discuss the invitation on Monday.
Elmwood's status is a bit more complicated.
Steven Pritts, Elmwood's superintendent, confirmed that his school also has sent a letter of interest to the Midland Athletic League, and the MAL's 12 members will meet today to discuss the possibility of inviting Elmwood and another current SLL member, Gibsonburg.
Just eight of the MAL's 12 schools currently compete in football within the league. Bettsville, New Riegel and Old Fort do not field football teams and, although Fostoria St. Wendelin retained its MAL membership, it will begin competing in football in the Northwest Central Conference this season.
Numbers wise, the MAL could accommodate two more members within a football schedule that could include nine league games.
Pritts did not acknowledge that Elmwood currently has any preference between the NBC and MAL. But the NBC would mean a step up in competition for the Royals in terms of the collective enrollment profile of its opposition, and the MAL would present a less competitive profile, in terms of that league's average enrollment numbers.
"We have expressed interest in both league's," Pritts said. "At this point, we want to keep our options open to make sure we will be involved in a league, and not be in an independent situation. We'll follow through with that [MAL] option as well and, if we're invited to the MAL, we'll discuss both situations with our coaches and administrators. Then we'll make a recommendation to our school board.
"We want to make a decision based on what's best for our kids."
Elmwood and Gibsonburg were two of the seven current SLL members remaining with Lakota departing the SLL for the MAL beginning this fall. The other five SLL schools had voted to approve the addition of Rossford to that league as a replacement for Lakota, but Elmwood and Gibsonburg voted not to approve Rossford on multiple occasions. Since the SLL's charter requires a 75 percent vote in favor of approving new members, the 5-2 margin did not meet that minimum.
The SLL members subsequently entertained the option of a 12-team, two-tiered alignment. This option would have included Elmwood, Gibsonburg and Woodmore in a lower-enrollment division along with three new members, and Eastwood, Genoa, Otsego and Rossford in a higher-enrollment division with two other new members.
Ultimately, however, the seven schools failed to agree on proposed additions. That failure led the other five schools to break off and join Rossford in the new NBC. Gibsonburg did not submit a letter of interest to the NBC, but did send one to the MAL in April.
Rossford's forthcoming departure from the NLL opened up a spot in that league. In June, the NLL approved the addition of Napoleon beginning in 2011-12. The Wildcats will thus leave the six-team Greater Buckeye Conference, which will also lose Sandusky next year. Those moves have left Findlay, Fremont Ross, Lima Senior and Marion Harding with the options of either finding a new league or participating as independents.
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