By Greg Frost

BOSTON (Reuters) - Harvard Business School said on Tuesday it is rejecting applications from 119 would-be students it accused of hacking into a Web site to learn early if they were accepted, before the sending of official notifications.

"This behavior is unethical at best -- a serious breach of trust that cannot be countered by rationalization," Kim Clark, dean of Harvard Business School, said in a statement.

"Any applicant found to have done so will not be admitted to this school."

Harvard said it knew the names of the 119 applicants who tried to learn their admissions status early using a security flaw in an online college-recruitment and application product called ApplyYourself.

Jim Aisner, a spokesman for the Ivy League university's business school, declined to say how many of the 119 would have been accepted at the school had they not peeked.

The intrusions came as business schools across America place more emphasis on ethics following a wave of Wall Street accounting scandals.

Harvard's Clark said the school's mission was to educate principled leaders with high integrity, sound judgment and "a strong moral compass -- an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong."

"Those who have hacked into this Web site have failed to pass that test," Clark said.

Last week, an individual exposed the ApplyYourself security flaw on an online message board and showed readers how to access records at some of the most prestigious U.S. business schools to see if they were accepted.

ApplyYourself said it fixed the flaw after learning about it, and that the intruders did not get information about anyone but themselves. A company spokesman was not immediately available for further comment.

Other schools affected said they were still mulling how to handle the matter.

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, said it will carry out a full investigation before determining what action to take.

A Tuck spokeswoman would not say how many applicants had tried to access their admission status, but she said those who did only saw a blank screen because the school had not yet put the information online.

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said it knew of only one applicant who tried to access the information.

Jim Gray, an associate dean at Fuqua, said the school had not yet taken any official action regarding the prospective student, but he added: "Put it this way: he shouldn't be buying any Duke sweatshirts or renting any apartments in Durham."

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