CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The city of Charleston is putting on a full-court press to keep what was the West Virginia Conference basketball tournament in town, but the clock has started ticking on that effort.
The same clock has been ticking toward the end of the 89-year-old WVC. Nine of its members have left to form three-quarters of the Mountain East Conference, which has received the NCAA's go-ahead to launch as a new Division II league.
Three members, Ohio Valley, Davis & Elkins and Alderson-Broaddus, have moved on to the fledgling Great Midwest Athletic Conference, along with former WVC member Salem International.
As it brings its top-seeded men's tennis team to Charleston today for the final WVC tournament in that sport, Bluefield State is holding out hope it can join the Mountain East.
Athletic director Terry Brown says filling out schedules for 2013-14 has not been a problem, calling future MEC schools "very cooperative." But he would love to get his program in the MEC, especially with Virginia-Wise a charter member.
"We really haven't gotten a clear direction, but we're hoping to have some closure pretty soon," Brown said. "That we didn't sponsor football originally, that was a concern. I think it's changed somewhat since then. Early on, the driving force was football."
"I'm personally hoping they go to the G-Mac with us, but that's a geographical challenge for them," said Dennis Cox, Ohio Valley's athletic director.
As for his school, Cox is more ready for the transition. The G-Mac will have 10 members in 2013-14, spread over four states. With the lower number of schools, OVU will get more nonconference games - and more leeway to schedule old WVC rivals.
"I know we're going to be very comfortable with it," he said. "Nashville and Owensboro are seven-hour drives, but otherwise it's a great fit for us."
The Mountain East previously announced its football format, playing a nine-game schedule this year and a 10-game slate in 2014. The latter provides a full round-robin schedule among the 11 football-playing teams, and eliminates the headache of scheduling nonconference teams.
The league has yet to launch its full website, let alone announce its format for other sports - or where championships will take place.
That has Charleston officials working overtime to land the basketball tournament. Think about it: The city was the site of all WVC tournaments from 1960-2013, essentially from the time the first Civic Center was built.
With a convenient location and good venue with both Civic Center arenas, lobbying was unnecessary.