Lunsway was executive director of parking and transportation services, and Strouts was vice president of campus services. Both men resigned after an internal review by Georgia Tech’s chief auditor found several ethics violations. The findings included information that Strouts had asked Sodexo to let him use its football suite in 2015 so he could entertain people he had previously worked with at Florida State University, along with family and friends.
The Sodexo complaint includes other disturbing allegations that Tech is withholding information that could embarrass the school.
“On information and belief, at some point prior to the issuance of the RFP, Paul Strouts directed his assistant to send Sodexo’s financial information to Aramark. However, no records regarding such a transmittal have been produced by Georgia Tech,” Sodexo’s attorneys wrote.
Georgia Tech referred questions about the lawsuit to the University System, which declined comment, citing pending litigation. An Aramark spokeswoman said the company is “pleased to have received a notice of intent” from Georgia Tech for the contract, but declined further comment.
Aramark and Sodexo, along with the Compass Group, are the top three food and beverage providers in the nation. For example, they battle over vending contracts for National Football League teams and in health care. Sodexo says on its website it provides food service, accommodations and facilities management services to over 1,000 universities, colleges and independent schools in the United States.
Sodexo has been the campus dining provider at Georgia Tech since 1997, according to the lawsuit complaint. The dining services contract is one of the most lucrative at the Midtown Atlanta campus. Sodexo made about $29 million from Georgia Tech during one recent 12-month period. The contracts included suite catering and guest meals in residential dining halls. The company even had the contract to provide food and drinks at the Rolling Stones concert on campus in June 2015.
Sodexo filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Administrative Services at the end of November, almost two weeks after Georgia Tech announced it intended to go with Aramark. The contract is currently on hold as the state agency reviews the complaint. Sodexo was scheduled to submit additional documents last week.
Sodexo believes the former Georgia Tech administrators and others “were allowed to erase material, including what would be responsive records, from their personal and work devices and accounts.”
“Georgia Tech has not produced any documents explaining how, when, or why those criteria were adopted and/or weighted. When asked, Georgia Tech asserted on January 11, 2019, that there are no documents that discuss how the scoring criteria for the RFP were developed,” they wrote.
A Sodexo spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions about the lawsuit claims.
“We remain optimistic that if given the opportunity, Sodexo can blend its strong track record for customer satisfaction and community engagement with new culinary innovations at Georgia Tech,” the company said in a statement.