The Shreveport Times quoted a source as saying school officials had threatened the players with the loss of their scholarships if they did not participate in Saturday's game.
When the scheduled departure time of 2:30 p.m. CDT arrived, however, most of the players had left campus and none was in the parking lot where the buses were ready to make the 160 mile trip along Interstate 20 to Jackson.
Gambling has lost all seven of its games this year, running its current losing streak to 17 contests.
Friday's action brought to a peak a player revolt that began Tuesday when members of the Grambling team walked out of a meeting with school officials. The players did not participate in scheduled practice sessions Wednesday or Thursday.
The player unrest began in September when Grambling President Frank Pogue dismissed Coach Doug Williams, who returned to his alma mater to coach after a professional career that included his being named MVP of the Super Bowl in 1988. He led Washington to the NFL title that year with a 42-10 victory over Denver.
Since Williams' firing, Grambling has gone through a series of interim coaches and the latest change was made this week.
The Shreveport newspaper said its source believed the players would not have taken the action they did if Williams had kept his job.
"All (Williams) would have to do is flick his finger and those players would be here," the source was quoted as saying.
The game was to have been the feature of Jackson State's annual homecoming celebration. The school announced on its Web site that an intersquad game would be played and other homecoming activities would go on as planned.