OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MARCH 20: Klint Carlson #2 of the Northern Iowa Panthers celebrates a basket in the second half against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 20, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(SP) – Hoping to expand and strengthen after losing several of its best players to the Western Conference, the NBA’s Eastern Conference announced today that it has offered spots to two college programs “that can really improve the product.”

Northern Iowa and McNeese State, both mid-level NCAA Division I programs, have officially received offers to join the NBA’s Eastern Conference and representatives from both programs are said to be considering the offer.

“We think they can both step right in and improve the Eastern Conference,” said NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “We want to make sure our fans are getting competitive basketball throughout the league.”

Northern Iowa went 14-16 in the Missouri Valley Conference last year while McNeese State put up a 7-22 mark in the Southland Conference.

“Look, Kentucky and North Carolina weren’t going to join the Eastern Conference,” said Tatum. “We had to be reasonable with our invitations. I see Northern Iowa as a team like the Atlanta Hawks that can compete night in and night out. And while McNeese State had a terrible record, so did the Sixers and look how excited people are about them.”

Northern Iowa athletic director David Harris said he appreciates the offer, but will make his decision on “what is best for our student-athletes.”

“A lot of these kids want a future in the sport of basketball,” added the AD. “I just don’t know if it’s good for them to be associated with the Eastern Conference unless there’s a chance for them to get traded to the West or sign there in the near future.”