A merger between the Big East Conference and the University of Miami could mean the salvation of a struggling basketball program.

Miami's attendance in basketball has averaged less than 3,000 since the school resurrected the sport in 1985. A chance to play conference games against the likes of Georgetown and St. John's has Miami officials excited."It would do tremendous things for the basketball program. It would get that on the road right away," said Arthur Hertz, a member of the university's board of trustees.

The 55-member board was scheduled to vote today on whether to accept an invitation to join the conference.

"I believe accepting an invitation to the Big East would be very much in order," board member David Kraslow said Tuesday. "I favor it very strongly for a whole variety of reasons."

Kraslow said he has talked to a number of fellow board members, and "most of them" share his enthusiasm for the alliance. Board members Hertz and Nick Crane said they had no reservations.

"It sounds good to me," Crane said. "Everybody's talking about going into conferences, and I think for long-term security that's the place to be - in a conference."