Hilldale will replace Pryor in the Verdigris Valley Conference starting with the 2009-10 school year.

“At least this way we can keep the conference intact,” said Miami athletic director Rick Woods. “We’re working with three or four others — we’d like to have a 10-team league.”

The decision came during a Monday meeting at Vinita.

Woods said Catoosa, Fort Gibson and “a couple other schools” have expressed interest in joining the Valley.

Hilldale, located in Muskogee County, had an average daily membership of 475.44 when numbers were released by the OSSAA in July.

Hilldale will participate in spring sports starting in 2010 and will be added for other sports the following season.

Miami, Grove, Jay, Wagoner, Locust Grove and Vinita are the other members of the Valley.

Miami’s history with the Valley dates back to the 1920s.

In the 1927-28 season, the league included current members MHS, Pryor, and Vinita as well as Sand Springs, Claremore, Skiatook, Collinsville, Delaware, Ramona, Nowata and Dewey.

Miami, Claremore and Pryor left to become a charter member of the Six Lakes Conference, then moved to the Metro Lakes Conference.

Pawhuska was in the Valley when Miami re-joined nine years ago.

A 10-team Valley could be split into North and South Divisions, helping simplify scheduling in most sports, specifically basketball. Teams in each division could play each other twice and teams in the other division once — giving teams in instant 13 games.

Oklahoma schools are given the option of playing 16 games and two tournaments or 14 games and three tournaments.

Miami’s non-conference games this season are against Rogers (Ark.) Heritage, Seneca and Neosho, Mo., and Coffeyville, Kan. They’ve also played in the Northeastern A&M and Sperry tournaments.

“Most of the 5A and 6A schools are around the metro Tulsa area, but the 4A schools are scattered all over,” Woods said. “There is not one pod of them in any one area.”

Hilldale, which would become the southernmost school in the Valley, is about a 1 hour, 50 minute drive.

Baseball and softball teams in the league could play double-headers instead of single games on a home-and-home basis.