It is always possible that if you are talented enough you could get a full-ride scholarship. However, full-rides are much more the exception and not the rule for college sports. The majority of athletic scholarships are not full-rides. Additionally, most college athletes are not on scholarship at all.
Sports that guarantee full-ride scholarships
There are certain sports that are called head count sports, this means all scholarships offered are full-rides (but not all athletes are on scholarship). These sports are all at the NCAA DI level and they are Men’s Basketball, Football (FBS only), Women’s Basketball, Women’s Tennis, Women’s Volleyball and Women’s Gymnastics. If you are offered a scholarship by a team competing at this level, it is going to be a full-ride.
All other sports split up scholarship money
All other sports and division levels offer what are known as equivalency scholarships. This means a team has a set number of scholarships and the coach is free to divide those scholarships up as they see fit. For example, they might give three athletes 33% of a scholarship, rather than give only one athlete 100% of a scholarship. They do this so they can bring in more talented athletes. If you are looking for a full-ride scholarship from an equivalency sport, you are going to need to find the right situation as not all schools will even offer a full-ride.
How to get a full-ride from an equivalency sport
If you must have a full-ride, you are going to need to be willing to look at schools you weren’t initially considering. To get a full-ride in these sports you need to be one of, if not the best athlete on the team. Coaches usually reserve their full-ride scholarships for athletes who are going to be challenging to make all-American or win national titles. Anything less and a coach will probably try to break that scholarship up among several athletes in order to get more talented players on the team.