The latest winner of CBS' "Big Brother" -- an Aurora native -- said Thursday he's saddened by the controversy the show generated this season and hoped it wouldn't "jeopardize" his job at the College of DuPage.
Andy Herren, 26, a part-time COD instructor, won season 15 of "Big Brother" Wednesday night following a summer run marked by racially tinged and anti-gay comments from some contestants. Herren bested 15 housemates in taking home the $500,000 prize after spending three months in house with cameras running 24/7.
What was captured on those cameras, however, has officials at COD distancing themselves from Herren. And whether he will return to teach at the community college next semester remains up in the air.
Herren, who is openly gay, was often the target of negative comments on the show, and he was criticized for some of his own.
"Those kind of comments are nothing I condone. It hurts me they were said," Herren said.
"It makes me sad to be associated with a season of 'Big Brother' like I did."
Herren admitted that he made some comments that he didn't intend to, and others that may have been taken out of context.
In one instance, Herren reportedly said that he wanted to punch housemate Elissa Slater in the throat, according to bigbrotheraccess.com, a blog site that follows the series.
On Thursday morning, Herren took to Twitter to say, "I already feel terrible about my Elissa comments. To anyone I offended, especially Elissa, I am sorry."
And it may be because of some of those comments that his future as an adjunct professor of speech at COD in Glen Ellyn could be in doubt.
In response to comments from "Big Brother" viewers on the college's Facebook and Twitter pages, COD officials posted this statement: "Andy Herren has formerly worked for College of DuPage as a part-time instructor. He does not currently work for the college. Any behavior or language he uses on the CBS reality show 'Big Brother' does not represent the opinions or values of College of DuPage."
Herren said he began working for COD in the fall of 2011, and informed college officials this summer that he was going to be on the TV show, precluding him from teaching the fall semester.
COD spokesman Joe Moore would not comment on Herren's future but said when an instructor applies to teach part-time at COD that person becomes "part of a pool of available instructors who get scheduled if the college needs them."
Later this month, the college will begin to schedule adjuncts for spring semester.
"I'd love to be back there come January," Herren said. " ... I hope being on the show doesn't jeopardize that."
Herren is a 2005 graduate of West Aurora High School and a 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois. He later earned a master's degree in communication from the university.
Herren has also studied and performed improv at The Second City and iO Chicago.
Herren plans to be cautious with his winnings, but also hopes to travel and "go out drinking a little more than I normally do."
Herren said he is eager to return home.
"After living 90 days in a house, I can't wait to get back to Chicago," said Herren, who now lives in the city's Lakeview neighborhood. "Growing up in the suburbs, I've really come to love it, and why I live in Chicago is because I can be so close."