Obituary: Stephen Jefferson, Former Sport Management Program Director

Stephen W. Jefferson
Stephen Jefferson

Stephen W. Jefferson, also known as Sabeur Bey, of Amherst, retired lecturer and former undergraduate program director in the McCormack Department of Sport Management, died Feb. 9. He was 67.

Born Aug. 3, 1950 in Newark, New Jersey, he spent his young life with his mother’s family in Newark and his father’s in Easton, Pennsylvania. He became an avid basketball player at Easton High School, where he graduated in 1968.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he excelled at basketball, setting a record in rebounds that stood for 37 years and earned him a place in the Rider athletics hall of fame. He was also an auxiliary draft choice of the Phoenix Suns.

He received a master’s degree from Montclair State College in 1974 and a doctorate from UMass Amherst School in 1987, both in education. He was an assistant coach for the UMass Amherst women’s basketball team from 1978-81, and he refereed high school and college basketball for 30 years.

He worked in the Massachusetts corrections system, spending time as director of inmate training and education, and with juvenile justice programs in Springfield and Westborough. He became deeply committed to education for incarcerated people and ultimately to prison abolition.

From 1991-92, he was dean of students at Amherst Regional Junior High School.

From 1999-2013, he taught history and sociology of sports in the sport management department in the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management. From 1999-2011 he was director of the undergraduate program in sport management. He taught both undergraduate and graduate students, and his courses included “History of Sport,” “Race and Sport” and “Sports and Violence.”

He was among the leaders of “Stand Up and Be Counted,” a program encouraging men and boys to take a public pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

He was a counselor with Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) for at least 20 years, dedicating his time to the transformation of violence in families and communities.

Following a stroke in 2010, he joined Hope Community Church and decided to bridge his past practices in Islam with Christian faith by changing his name to Sabeur Bey. 

He is survived by his three children: Cara, Pilar, and Sajo; his ex-wife Marla; his brothers Marvin, David and Allen; and his sister Dale.

Calling hours are Wednesday, Feb.14 from 5-8 p.m. at Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst. Burial will be private.