Some government officials are looking at college athletes as a new prospective pool of candidates to serve as future leaders and employees within the intelligence community (IC), according to one official.

Cynthia G. Snyder, assistant director of national intelligence for human capital in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), talked about looking at college athletes as a prospective area for an IC workforce at an event today hosted by the Brookings Institute.

“There’s another group that we’ve not really focused on, and these are our college athletes,” she said. “When you look at our college athletes, most of us know that a large percentage are not selected for a professional career. But when you look at their characteristics, I mean they embody the same characteristics that we’re looking for in intelligence officers.”

Synder explained that her agency launched the Locker Room to the Situation Room Initiative last year in an effort to recruit college athletes, and it has since been able to get in “touch with about 60 schools thus far.”

“[We’ve] talked to athletic directors and counselors and [we’re] also planning to attend a National Association for the directors of college athletes conference in June,” she said.

However, Synder said her agency has run into problems with the way most IC agencies tend to recruit.

“We have a tremendous pool of talent. But again, we tend to think very traditional when we start recruiting, and so we’re encouraging ourselves, as well as others, to think beyond the traditional perspective,” she said.

Other places that Snyder suggests recruiting from include looking at other untraditional institutions of education for possible candidates.

“We have minority-serving institutions, historically black colleges, we have universities and colleges that are located in rural areas where students wouldn’t otherwise be aware of the intelligence community or even consider a career in intelligence,” she said. “It’s up to us to come up to be proactive and come up with innovative ways to make sure that we attract the best talent.”

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