It's possible. They have a hockey-playing contingent in the league, so perhaps they see the execution of it as a trial run? I think it being easier to set up without having to fully jump up helps, along with a reformed CCHA likely wanting 2 more members within its footprint to get to an even 10 team league. Being backed by a billionaire and richest man in the state who has some very yikes headlines helps too. (Billionaire T. Denny Sanford Was Under Investigation for Child Pornography)Augustana has already been rejected by the Summit League twice. I guess they are hoping having hockey will make them more attractive?
But, if they were rejected twice by a natural fit conference for a D3 school (albeit one in a major metro area with a similar enrollment and endowment bigger than every single AE school), that says something, especially if they're backed by some big pockets.